Protein is an essential nutrient the body needs to build muscle and stay fit and healthy. Not enough protein in your diet can leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Research shows that people, who do not consume enough protein in their diet, usually load up on unnecessary carbohydrates that pack on weight and fat.
Nutrition labels don't always tell you how much protein you are getting, and they certainly won't divulge how much you should get. Below are some tips to help you get the adequate amount of protein your body needs.
Step #1: Examine your health and stage of life
It is important to assess your medical and physical health, as well as your age. Are you taking medications or under the care of a doctor for a particular health issue? Ask yourself if you are planning to get pregnant in the near future or planning to lose weight. If you are, it is best to work with a dietician or professional to help discuss and plan your protein requirements.
Step #2: What are your personal goals?
Understanding your personal and health goals also comes into play. If you are training for a physical event, such as a race or marathon, you are going to require more protein for muscle building. If not an athlete, your needs may be different. Perhaps you want to increase energy throughout the day or work on creating more lean body mass. Maybe hormonal balance is critical to your personal goals, so you will want to find out just how much protein your body requires.
Step #3: Understand the real meaning of protein source
On the back of a nutrition label, all protein reads the same. But, all protein sources are different. It is important to understand the real meaning of a protein source and identify whole food courses that are comprised of protein, like fish, meat, or eggs. Parts of proteins are called isolates, and are typically found in the form of powders and liquids. They are added to foods, instead of found in them.
Step #4: Regularly consume protein with each meal
Once you have determined how much protein your body needs on a daily basis, be sure to implement the protein sources with each meal. Whether you are having liquid forms of protein or meats, quality sources should be served with every meal. Plant and animal sources are both important. Plant sources should be consumed just as much as animal sources, unless you are vegetarian. At certain lifestages, where the body is more active and strong, larger servings of protein may be consumed. Active adults may choose two servings of protein at each meal over one serving.
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