Importance of Protein – Part 2

protein part 2

In our previous post “Importance of Protein – Part 1” we learned exactly what proteins were and why they’re so important to the function of our body. In today’s blog, we look at the impact our dietary protein has on our health and our bodies, how much protein is good for us and the different types of protein sources.

How To Beat 3:30-itus

Over the years, a lot of research has shown that protein makes you feel full for longer. A study published in 2014 compared three afternoon snacks: high-protein yoghurt, high-fat crackers and high-fat chocolate. Researchers found that the women who ate the yoghurt were less hungry in the afternoon than those who ate the chocolate. They also ate less at dinner time compared to the women who ate the crackers and chocolate as an afternoon snack.

Another study on adolescents in 2015 found those who consumed high-protein afternoon snacks had a better appetite and were more satisfied. They also had improved moods and better cognition.

From our post last week, we know that we need to get certain amino acids from our foods. If we don’t eat enough diverse protein food sources, we risk becoming deficient in some essential amino acids. Why is this important? Without all the amino acids, our bodies will have:

  • A sluggish metabolism
  • Low energy levels and fatigue
  • Trouble building muscle mass
  • Poor concentration, memory and trouble learning
  • Mood swings
  • Unstable blood sugar levels
  • Trouble maintaining or losing weight
  • Low immunity
  • Slow wound healing

Top Protein Sources

Now we know why getting enough protein in our diet is important, lets look at what foods contain protein and how much protein we actually need.

Remember back in Part 1 we learned about essential and non-essential amino-acids? Well foods that contain all of the essential amino acids are known as a ‘complete’ protein source.

Here is a list of popular complete protein sources:

  • All meat (chicken, beef, pork, kangaroo etc)
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Whey
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Hemp and Chia Seed
  • Spirulina

Many people think that complete proteins only come from animals, however there are a few plan based sources that are considered ‘complete’ too.

Incomplete proteins don’t have all the essential amino acids, or don’t have enough of them to meet the body’s requirements. Therefore incomplete proteins must be supplemented with other proteins so our bodies can get all the essential amino acids needed. Here are some popular incomplete proteins:

  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Grains
  • Vegetables

Just because they are incomplete doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them. It just means they need to be combined with something else to provide us with the right balance of essential amino acids.

Proteins that make a complete amino acid profile when combined are known as “complementary proteins”. Here are some delicious examples of complementary proteins:

  • Rice and beans
  • Spinach salad with almonds
  • Hummus and whole-grain pitas
  • Whole-grain noodles with peanut sauce

 How Much Protein Is Enough?

The table below shows the EAR (estimated average requirement) and RDI (recommended dietary intake) of protein consumption for men and women in various age groups.

You can use macronutrient tracker apps such as MyFitnessPal to see how much protein is in your serving of food.

Age

Estimated average requirement Recommended dietary intake
Men
19-30 years 52g/day (0.68g/kg) 64 g/day (0.84g/kg)
31-50 years 52g/day (0.68g/kg) 64 g/day (0.84g/kg)
51-70 years 52g/day (0.68g/kg) 64 g/day (0.84g/kg)
70 years + 65 g/day (0.86g/kg) 81 g/day (1.07g/kg)
Women
19-30 years 37 g/day (0.60g/kg) 46 g/day (0.75g/kg)
31-50 years 37 g/day (0.60g/kg) 46 g/day (0.75g/kg)
51-70 years 37 g/day (0.60g/kg) 46 g/day (0.75g/kg)
70 years + 46 g/day (0.75g/kg) 57 g/day (0.94g/kg)

That’s the end of our series on Protein! If you have any questions, comment below or by tagging BodyICE on Facebook or #BodyICE on Instagram. We love to hear from you!

by Serena Gelante – Health, Wellness & Nutrition

Sources:

Rand WM, Pellett PL, Young VR. Meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies for estimating protein requirements in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77:109-27.

Campbell WW, Evans WJ. Protein requirements of elderly people. Eur J Clin Nutr 1996;50:S180-S185.

Campbell WW, Trappe TA, Wolfe RR, Evans WJ. The recommended dietary allowance for protein may not be adequate for older people to maintain skeletal muscle. J Gerontol A Biol Med Sci 2001;56:M373-M380.