What is protein?
Besides water, proteins are the most abundant type of molecule in your body. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids, 9 of which your body can’t produce on its own. Referred to as essential amino acids these need to be delivered through the food we eat. Foods that contain all 9 essential amino acids are called complete proteins examples of this include animal protein sources like meat, fish, poultry and eggs as well as animal products like dairy. Foods that contain only some of the essential amino acids are called incomplete proteins. This includes foods such as nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. Neither is superior. What’s most important is you eat a diverse range of foods that are protein-rich.
Why do we need protein?
Proteins are vital for your body to maintain and repair your muscles and bones. Amino acids are essential in the production of hormones and enzymes which regulate most of your body’s functioning and digestion. Protein plays an important role in immunity integral in the production of antibodies and immunoglobulins that protect you from illness. Protein deficiency is rare but can lead to muscle shrinkage, fluid retention issues and anaemia or iron deficiency since animal protein sources are also rich in iron.
How much protein should I eat?
This changes depending on the individual. The two variables are body mass (your total weight minus body fat) and your activity level. Those who work out moderately day to day generally won’t require above 0.8-1.0g protein per kilogram which is the recommended average. Athletes and those looking to “bulk muscle” may require more, up to 1.5g per kilogram. Don’t get overwhelmed, the most recent national nutritional survey indicated that 99% of Australians are getting the recommended amount of protein from the food they eat without supplementation. At Shape PT our trainers make it simple for you. We assess your dietary needs and will provide you with personalised advice on protein intake based upon your body and goals.
What are the benefits of eating a diverse range of protein-rich foods?
Eating a diverse range of foods is important for all your macros. To keep it simple, greater diversity in food leads to greater diversity in your gut microbiome. There is a clear link between microbiome diversity and health. Low diversity levels have been associated with increased levels of obesity whereas higher levels of diversity are proven to be protective against illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, eczema and arthritis.
Your Shape PT will outline what proportion of your meal should be made up of protein and encourage you to eat a varied and balanced diet in order to best support your health goals.
Written by Patricia Hurley