When you’re short on time, eating on the go, or perhaps transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet it can be difficult to make nourishing, protein filled meals. Since your body cannot store protein, it only has the ability to store carbohydrates and fats, one has to make sure they consume enough protein daily through a balanced diet. Fear not, most people have no problems meeting their requirements, but if you are it is easy to find a quick protein boost!
Protein is a complex macronutrient that is great for muscle recovery and repair, but is also essential for thousands of processes that take place in our bodies every day. “Proteins are made from long chains of smaller molecules called amino acids… There are only about 20 different naturally occurring amino acids.” Amino acids, the building blocks of hair, skin, nails, and bones, are vital, especially in terms of building, repairing, and regenerating tissue. Hormones, enzymes, and other fundamental body chemicals such as globulins, which carry oxygen in the blood and muscles, are all comprised of protein. In short, protein develops, grows, and maintains nearly every part of your being! Not only is protein crucial to a well functioning, health self, it also helps you feel satisfied and promotes balanced blood sugar levels which keep your energy levels steady throughout the day.
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, the standard minimum recommendation of protein intake for adults is 0.75-0.8g of protein per kilo of body weight. As you age, your protein requirements must increase as adults are less efficient in using amino acids for muscle protein synthesis, but they can also differ depending on gender and physical activity.
For those you do have low protein, it could either be from a diet lacking sufficient protein source or from the inability to absorb protein. When one does not consume enough protein it can lead to increased blood glucose levels, imbalanced energy levels, sluggishness, muscle weakness and fatigue. Since protein is necessary when producing new cells and tissues, a protein deficiency can also make recovery from an illness difficult.
Finally, a lack of protein can lead to hair thinning, brittle nails, and rough skin. Malabsorption can stem from many things, but is most likely due to an imbalance in the gut that impairs protein digestion. In order to properly digest protein, one must have proper levels of stomach acid. Chronic stress can detrimentally affect protein levels as stress hormones increase muscle and tissue breakdown in times of physical and emotional stress. Whilst working out is paramount for a happy and healthy mind and body, rest is key, as over exercising can lead to increased nutrient loss.
Using protein powder as a dietary supplement can be an easy and effective way to support your body. You can blend protein powder into your post workout smoothie, mix it into your pancake batter and soups, or sprinkle it on top of your porridge or yogurt bowl. It also travels easily and can accompany on your daily commute or your next big holiday as a nutritious, portable snack.
A complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids; these are the amino acids our body cannot produce on its own. Naturally, plant based protein sources are not complete, as they do not contain all essential amino acids, but through smart food combinations you can find all the nutrients your body requires.
Typically made from yellow split peas, pea protein is one of the cleanest, most easily digestives, and allergy friendly proteins. It contains similar levels of protein per serving as whey and tends to be gentle on the gut. Its neutral flavour makes it a great addition to both savory and sweet meals. If dairy is not an issue, whey protein is a great alternative. It helps repair muscles post strength sweat sessions and contains all nine essential amino acids.
My personal favourite is MissFits Nutrition, it doesn’t use any nasties, such as sweeteners or thickeners, and offers only the good stuff – valuable vitamins and minerals, allowing me to access all of the benefits protein has to offer! Be particular when choosing your protein, make sure you are feeding your body with only the purest ingredients.