Are You Getting Enough Protein?
A diet lacking in protein will result in loss of muscle and loss of overall strength. Muscle supports bone!
Loss of muscle and strength is a natural part of aging but this will be exacerbated with inadequate protein and low exercise.
Muscle holds, supports and cushions bones. We need protein to maintain the health and fitness of our bodies. Sugar and fat do not contain protein. The best sources are meat, fish, eggs, and milk/milk products. Nuts, beans, lentils with breads and cereals can also make a significant contribution of protein. They also supply other essential nutrients such as calcium, iron and B vitamins.
What is protein?
Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids; there are 20 altogether, 9 of which are essential in the diet. They are essential in the sense that they cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from food. Plant proteins are incomplete, as they do not have the 9 essential amino acids.
The essential amino acids are
Do we know how much of each amino acid we need?
We probably don't know how much we need. This fascinating field will yield more information as studies are completed. At the moment, the best advice is to have maximum variety in protein sources.
What does protein do in the body?
Protein has numerous roles in the body including growth and repair of muscle and tissue as well as supplying enzymes, hormones and essential amino acids. Lack of protein can lead to muscle wasting, lethargy and malnutrition.
How much protein do we need?
The recommended intake is 55 grams per day per adult. Most Australians eat closer to 100 grams. We need approximately 1 gram of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day eg 60.0 kg female would require 1 gram x 60 = 60 grams of protein per day. A higher requirement is needed for the young, athletes and in some illnesses.
How much protein do we get from different foods?
|PROTEIN FOOD||GRAMS PER SERVE|
|COMPLETE PROTEIN||(Contains the 9 essential amino acids)|
|1 egg||6 grams|
|1 cup milk- low fat, fortified||12 gram|
|1 cup milk, regular/skim||8.5 grams|
|1 slice cheese-regular||5 grams|
|200 gram carton yoghurt||10 grams|
|120 grams lean meat||24 grams|
|120 grams chicken breast||24 grams|
|120 grams fish, grilled||24 grams|
|INCOMPLETE PROTEIN||Needs a complementary combination of proteins to acquire all the essential amino acids|
|1/2 cup tofu, miso, tempeh||12- 18 grams|
|1/3 cup cooked beans/lentils||6.5 grams|
|2 tabsp nuts and seeds||6 grams|
|1 cup pasta||6 grams|
|2 slices bread||6 grams|
|1 cup rice||4.5 grams|
|1/2 cup corn \ spinach||3.5 grams|
|1 cup bean sprouts \ mushrooms||3 grams|
|1/2 cup potato||2.5 grams|
Can I be a vegetarian and get adequate protein?
Yes, but only if you include foods containing complete proteins or combined complementary proteins.
What is a complementary protein?
By mixing plant proteins, the various amino acids complement each other to make a complete protein
1 Grains and legumes
2 Nuts and legumes
3 Grains and milk products.
A peanut butter sandwich or baked beans on toast or breakfast cereal with milk are examples of protein complementing. Try and combine different sources of protein across the day so that the diet is varied and well balanced.
Are there different nutritional values of protein?
The mix and the quantity of amino acids that it contains determine the nutritional value of a food's protein. The food with the highest nutritional value is considered to be the egg or human breast milk.
The body is like a car. A car receives petrol, oil and water. The body needs proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water. Feed the body all the nutrients that it requires daily, and it will run well. We are what we eat!