What is Protein and Why is Protein Important?
What is Protein?
Protein is an essential nutrient that is found in every cell, muscle and tissue of your body. It is the most plentiful substance in your body next to water, making it essential to life. When protein levels are not adequate your skin, hair and nails will suffer, not to mention your muscles and major organs. Protein is found in many of the foods we eat, but some foods are better sources of protein than others.
Why is Protein Important?
Including adequate protein in your diet is essential for getting that lean, toned look. You need protein to build muscle, and as muscle is more metabolically active than other tissues your body needs more fuel to perform day-to-day functions. This makes protein also necessary to ensure that the muscle you already have is not being broken down in order to maintain bodily functions.
Whether your goal is to get into shape for a figure competition or to trim fat and get toned for the holidays, protein is an essential part of your daily nutritional needs. Many people, women especially, believe that increasing their protein intake will cause them to “bulk up” – this is a myth!
What are the best sources of protein?
Some of the following are where I get my protein from: beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, whey protein, cottage cheese, greek yoghurt and other dairy products. Meat is considered a “complete” protein and it contains essential amino acids. Vegetarian sources of protein include lentils and all pulses, nuts and seeds, and whey protein, to name a few.
How much protein?
There is some dispute over the correct amount of protein that people should be eating in their daily diet. The amount really depends on your personal nutrition goals. I generally work towards an intake of 1 – 2 grams per pound of bodyweight (1kg = 2.2lbs). To get an idea of how much protein you should have in your diet, multiply your body weight (in lbs) by 1 or 2. For me (as of today) that means I need a protein intake of between 140 – 280g per day.
Regardless of where you obtain your protein from, red meat, white meat, or no meat, meeting your daily protein goals is an important part of your nutrition.