The Importance of Protein

Protein is also important in weight loss or at least weight maintenance. So are you getting enough?

If you are eating a healthy diet with at least 3 balanced meals including some protein about the palm of your hand, which can take the form of animal proteins: chicken, eggs, fish, seafood, red meat, pork, cheese, yoghurt, milk, dairy etc, to plant based proteins such as: tofu, edamame beans, nuts, seeds, lentils, pulses to name a few, then yes you should be fine. The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is based on body weight, generally recommend 2-3 palm sized serves of protein or around 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight for a healthy adult or up to 2g per kilogram of body weight for teenagers and those exercising regularly with weight training. Proteins also contain a wide variety of nutrients including zinc, magnesium, iron, B vitamins to name a few, which are so important for energy production, protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism and immunity.

Research shows that protein can play a role in weight loss especially while activity trying to lose weight. It prevents muscle mass breakdown, especially if calories are being restricted as it still providing the building blocks for a healthy metabolism. Many people think they are losing body fat when jumping on the scales but much of the time (especially if not losing weight correctly), it can be a muscle mass drop. Hence, if you find that your weight comes back very quickly and you end up gaining more weight after the initial drop, it may be because while dieting, you are losing muscle mass. So moral of the story is don’t always judge everything by scales. The problem many tend to have is they are in a rush to lose weight, therefore skip meals or cut back calories excessively for a longer period of time, leading to the body trying to use protein as an energy source rather than for building blocks.

Many of my clients through a proper nutrition programme, gain muscle mass from their diet, before even hitting the gym. Checking body fat percentage vs muscle mass is important.

If you are doing a pump class or bootcamp or weight training session, then having protein source within 45minutes of training helps with the muscle fiber recovery and thus building new fibers and more tone! So it you can’t a meal with protein within this time, then protein powder can be very handy. Protein also keeps you fuller for longer so less likely to have sugar cravings.

It is important as we age that we keep up our balanced meals and variety of proteins (or if cooking for one!). People get lazy and go for quick convenience foods and may not necessarily benefits the body. I see many older adults fall into this issue with muscle fibers and ligaments get weakened or their immune system. In addition, if you want healthy hormones then protein is going to be your friend!

Males tend to be less protein deficient than women as women eat less and tend to go for the carbohydrates. So ladies time to make sure that you are adding enough protein to your salad or on your dinner plate and have healthy snacks. Ditch the afternoon chocolate bar and rice crackers, to go for a protein bar or bowl of Greek yoghurt or handful of nuts. If you are craving salt, it could be a sign that you need more protein as muscle fibers (from animals), contain sodium. You don't have to have a T bone steak every night but 3 palm fulls of either animal or plant proteins is important. 

Easy ways to get more protein in your diet:

  • 1)    Start the day with protein- adding nuts and seeds to your oats/ muesli. Adding yoghurt or milk to cereal. Adding protein powder to oats.
  • 2)      Making a smoothie with yoghurt, milk or protein powder
  • 3)      Taking protein snacks like as yoghurt, protein clusters- (see recipe), nuts, tuna, boiled egg, chicken, roast chickpeas, edamame beans
  • 4)      Eggs for breakfast or boiled eggs as snacks
  • 5)      Eating 3 balanced meals with palm of hand portion size. 
  • 6) Add protein powder to baking
Simple recipes to get you started!

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