Beef up your protein knowledge

By Mina Radman • Published: November 20th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You’ve likely seen marketing for high-protein foods. It has become a popular label on everything from bread to ice cream. Athletes swear by protein shakes after a workout and various protein bars line grocery store aisles. But do you understand what protein is, its role in your body and the best ways to consume this nutrient?

Protein is an essential macronutrient, meaning our bodies need a lot of it to function. It’s found throughout the body and used to build healthy tissues and repair cells. Our hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, so we must constantly refuel the supply. It also plays a big role in our diets. When we eat protein, our bodies feel fuller with less food. Because of this, dieters often turn to high-protein, low-carb diets to consume fewer overall calories and lose weight.

The National Institute of Medicine recommends adults eat 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight per day. Eggs, chicken, beef and fish contain plenty of protein. Protein powders can be added in milkshakes and smoothies and are commonly used by athletes after a workout or for breakfasts on the go. However, nutritionists warn against relying on protein powder because it cannot fully mimic naturally occurring protein. Protein contains nine amino acids that the body cannot make itself, and most protein powders do not have enough amino acids to satisfy the body’s needs.

If you’re looking to increase your protein intake, focus on foods that are naturally high in protein. Aside from poultry and fish, protein can be found in almonds and beans. Use this knowledge on protein to keep your body healthy and fit.