There are many fad diets out there, with more and more hype about high protein diets being linked to weight loss. What is the truth? Let’s start by finding out what protein is and why our body needs it.
What is protein?
Proteins are known as the building blocks of life. They're required for the structure, function and regulation of the body's cells, tissues, muscles, organs and the body as a whole. Adequate protein intake is required for our normal development and growth, immunity, heart and respiratory health, to name a few.
Why we need to include protein in our diet?
Proteins are made from compounds called amino acids. There are over 20 amino acids, with 9 of these being “essential amino acids” which cannot be made by the body, and must come from our diet.
How much protein do I need?
It is recommended that the average Australian adultmale consumes 0.84g of protein for every kilogram of body weight and 0.75g for females (NHMRC Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand). Daily protein needs may change for each individual based on physical activity levels, pregnancy, lactation or additional health requirements.
Protein food sources
The best dietary sources are lean animal proteins: fish, poultry or red meat. Animal proteins are great as they are considered a "complete protein" source, which provides all of the amino acids required to build new proteins in the body.
Tip...avoid animal proteins high in saturated fats such as fatty red meats and deli meats. Always opt for unprocessed, lean cuts of meat.
- 170g lean red meat provides 38g protein
- 170g salmon provides 34g protein
- 1 cup cooked lentils provides 18g protein
Vegetarian protein sources
Include beans, whole grains, tofu, seeds and nuts. Plant based proteins are great as they also provide dietary fibre, a range of nutrients and healthy fats. The hitch is that vegetarian sources often lack 1-2 amino acids, making them “incomplete proteins.” it is therefore important for vegetarians to include a variety of protein sources in their diet so they receive the full benefits.
Upside to vegetarian proteins…they are low in saturated fats, with studies showing that a diet rich in plant-based proteins, reduces your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, (Harvard School of Public Health) making your heart and waistline happy!
Protein and weight loss
It is important to include protein in every meal. As well as being a rich source of essential nutrients, research has shown that increasing protein in your diet is beneficial in maintaining a healthy weight. Protein foods slow the body’s digestion of food, increasing satiety and keeping you fuller for longer. Protein also has a steady effect on blood sugar levels, and increases body muscle mass.
Try our Protein Breakfast Booster recipe, a simple way to boost your protein intake in the morning!
Next time you’re experiencing hunger pangs or an afternoon sugar craving, check in with yourself and when your last protein meal was?
High protein snacks such as boiled eggs, raw nuts & seeds, natural “greek” style yoghurt with LSA, hummus or tofu are a great way to bypass the sweets and will keep you going until your next meal...try it! Remember, one serve of protein should be no larger than the palm of your hand.
Although including protein in your diet is important, do not sacrifice other important and essential nutrients from whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Make sure you have a happy and healthy balance of the food groups on your plate. And most importantly, enjoy your food!
Try these Incan Bliss Balls for an easy & healthy high protein snack!