Proteins: A Daily Essential
It’s a well-known fact! A balanced diet is the main key to success in preventing many diseases and maintaining overall good health. However, with dietary needs varying from one person to another, the rules of healthy eating are not always easy to decipher… Nevertheless, one principle applies to all of us: the importance of consuming enough protein daily!
But what are proteins and what role do they play in our diet? What’s more, what are the best sources of protein? Learn more in this article.
Why do we need to eat enough protein?
Protein is one of the 3 types of macronutrients that give our body the energy it needs to function. Proteins, along with fats and carbohydrates, provide us with energy in the form of calories. It is also important to know that proteins come together to form the strong fibres of many structures and tissues that are essential to the body’s functioning, including muscles, ligaments, tendons, and the protective covering that surround many organs. In addition to their composition, proteins perform other functions in our bodies, including the transport of substances, such as oxygen, through the blood circulatory system, the production of hormones, the proper functioning of the immune system, and so on.
Thus, when our diet does not include enough proteins, our body can find itself in a state of deficiency, which can lead to several consequences: a decrease in muscular capacity, osteoporosis, immune deficiency, etc.
How much protein should we eat daily?
Generally, an adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. However, the daily requirement increases considerably when practising certain sports.
By consuming enough protein, we ensure that our body has the energy it needs to perform all its functions and prevent deficiencies that can have serious health effects.
What are the best sources of protein?
There are animal and plant sources of protein. Both types have particularities that are important to be aware of, especially if you are trying to adopt a vegetarian diet or reduce your consumption of meat and animal products.
They are complete protein sources that our bodies can easily assimilate. Incorporating a source of animal protein in every meal helps to achieve the daily consumption target mentioned above. Sources of animal protein are:
- White meats: Chicken, turkey and other poultry are lean and very easy to cook protein sources.
- Red meats: Beef, veal, lamb and pork are all sources of animal protein. However, beware! They contain more fat and bad cholesterol, which is why it is important to consume them in smaller quantities.
- Eggs: They are a high-quality source of protein, as well as being one of the most affordable.
- Fish and seafood: Seafood contains protein and other important nutrients, such as omega-3 in fatty fish.
- Dairy products: Cheese, yoghurts and other dairy products are a good source of protein but be careful to watch their lipid (fat) content.
Many plants are also good sources of protein. However, some of them are incomplete, i.e., they must be combined with another type of plant protein to become a complete source.
- Soya: Tofu, tempeh and other soy products are some of the only sources of complete plant protein.
- Cereals: Rice, corn and wheat contain a good amount of protein. In most cases, these cereal grains must be combined with a legume to provide a complete source.
- Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, beans… There are many different types of legumes, all rich in protein. Combine them with whole grains for quality protein.
We hope that reading this article has helped you understand the importance of protein in your diet. For advice tailored to your condition or needs, consult a healthcare professional!