What is protein?
- Proteins are the bricks and mortar of our body. They make up our muscles, bones, skin, hair, blood and internal organs.
- They are all made up from about 20 different amino acids linked together in different combinations.
- We can create from scratch all but 8 of these amino acids. We must get these 8 “essential” amino acids from our diet to survive.
What does protein do?
- Most of our dietary protein is digested, broken down into their amino acids, then “turned into” us.
- Our body uses proteins to grow and repair itself. Without a daily supply of fresh protein, our body can cannibalise itself and breakdown one part, for use in another.
- Lack of protein in our diets can cause reduced growth, loss of muscle, lowered immunity, weakening of the heart and even death.
Where do we get protein from?
Foods that contain all amino acids are called Complete protein sources. Complete protein sources include:
- Animal based foods
But be aware, red meat is also high in “bad” saturated fat.
Foods missing some amino acids are called Incomplete protein sources. Incomplete protein sources include:
- Whole grains.
But be aware, because of their incomplete nature, a mixture of different incomplete protein sources are needed to get all the essential amino acids. Click here for a list of protein sources.
- If you are a vegetarian, ensure you eat a mixture of beans and nuts, or make sure you include dairy or eggs in your diet.
- If you are a meat eater, try to eat mainly fish or poultry, as these are low in “bad” saturated fats.
- Eating a source of protein each and every meal is a good way of
- Making you feel fuller for longer
- Minimising the chances of your own body muscle being “cannibalised”
If in doubt, each and every meal, ask yourself this simple question:
“Where is the lean protein in this meal?”
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