Why should we make sure we get enough protein in the diet? Here are five good reasons-
Protein is a component of every cell in our body; in fact, hair and nails are mostly made of proteins.
Our body uses protein to build and repair tissue.
We need proteins to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
Protein is an essential building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
About half the dietary protein that we consume goes into making enzymes that aid in digesting food and making new cells and body chemicals.
It is a core “macronutrient”, which means you relatively require large amounts of protein to stay healthy. Whereas you need vitamins and minerals in small quantities and hence called micronutrients.
Unlike carbohydrates and fat, the body does not store protein, so it has no reservoir to draw from when you are running low.
How much protein is enough?
We all have a thought that extra protein builds more muscle, but the truth is that only exercise can help build muscles. The body requires a moderate amount of protein to function well; extra protein doesn’t give extra strength.
The dietary reference intake (DRI) is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound, which amounts to 56 grams per day for an average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for a woman.
From where do we get protein?
There are different types of protein in our diet- complete protein, high-quality protein, and incomplete protein. The completeness of the protein depends on its amino acid (building blocks of protein) composition.
High-quality protein has all essential amino acids. These are obtained from animal sources like eggs, milk, poultry, and fish. About 75% of the protein we take through diet should be complete or of high-quality protein.
An incomplete protein is one that has lesser amino acids and is obtained from beans, cereals, rice, and milk. These proteins should be taken in higher quantities comparatively.
Protein-enriched foods are avocado, almonds, quinoa, chicken, chickpeas, spinach, yogurt, eggs, beans, and milk products.
Here are some examples of a proper protein diet.
A 3-ounce piece of meat contains about 21 grams of high-quality protein
1 cup of milk contains about 8 grams of high-quality protein
1 cup of dry beans contains about 16 grams of protein
Protein for older adults
More than 40% of adults over age 50 don’t consume enough protein. Therefore, researchers recommended that an intake of 25-30 grams of high-quality protein per meal is necessary for optimal muscle protein synthesis. Protein intake at this level is particularly beneficial for older adults as a strategy to maintain muscle mass.
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