Last week I posted about why it is so important to retain your muscle mass while dieting and that the best way to do that is to consume enough good quality protein. This week I thought it would be a good idea to explain why protein is so important, not just during your weight loss journey, but all the time.
Did you know that protein makes up about 20% of our bodies weight? It is present in the outer and inner membranes of every living cell. You hair, nails and outer layers of your skin are made of the protein keratin. Muscle tissue is made up of protein, and not just the ones you see when you flex, but also your heart and smooth muscle tissue that helps with digestion.
Our bones also contain protein. The outer part of the bone is made of minerals and calcium but the inner structure is made of protein and it’s also part of the bone marrow.
Red blood cells contain hemoglobin which is a protein that helps carry oxygen through the body. Lipoproteins help remove cholesterol from the body. Proteins also interact with certain nutrients by binding with them to carry them through the body.
Wow that’s a lot!
Depending on how active you are you should be getting 20% - 30% of your calories per day from protein. The more active the more protein you require.
What we call protein is actually a compound of smaller components called amino acids. There are 21 amino acids in total. Out of the 21 amino acids, 12 are non-essential, meaning your body can make them. The remaining 9 must be derived from the food we consume on a daily basis.
There are both complete and incomplete proteins. A complete protein is one that contains all 21 amino acids, incomplete are the 9 that we have to get from food sources.
Animal sources are all complete sources, including red meat, poultry, seafood and dairy.
Now you’re asking yourself, what if I don’t want to get all of my protein (or any of it) from animal sources?
The good news is that there are lots of non animal sources. With both complete and incomplete proteins.
Complete sources include:
- Soy products such as edamame, tofu, miso, tempeh and soy milk
- Coconut – consider using coconut flour in your baking, you’ll cut down on carbs too
- Hemp seeds
- And of course our favorite IDEAL PROTEIN FOODS
Incomplete sources include:
- Brown rice
- Legumes (a fancy way of saying beans, peas or peanuts)
Good news, by combining some of these foods it makes them complete. You can enjoy them together in one meal or they can be consumed over the course of same day.
Food combing to create a complete protein includes:
- Corn and beans
- Brown rice and beans
- Oatmeal made with soy milk
- Whole grain bread with peanut butter
Basically combine grains and legumes or nuts and legumes.
Whether you’re dieting for weight loss or just want to have a healthy diet make sure you get enough protein.
Take care of yourself, you deserve the best.