Updated: Apr 14
Protein is a major component of my diet, so coming from experience I know how hard it can be to get the recommended amount everyday. Often you will find a majority of people using protein powders and supplements, but these can often be confusing, expensive and cause the pinch nose drinking effect.
Why do we need protein?
It's an important component of our body cells, it makes enzymes, hormones and chemicals that help with the regulation of body functions. Protein is the building block of our bones, muscles, skin and blood, it is often very popular to have a high protein diet with body builders, as it assists with repair and building of muscle and tissue.
Recommended daily amounts of protein change as we age, but are currently at 0.8g per kilogram, and should roughly make up 10-15% of your daily diet. Those that participate in moderate to vigorous exercise, should increase on those days to 1.2-1.7g per kilogram due to the increased need to repair tissue and muscle.
Protein helps us feel fuller for longer, decreasing energy intake due to lowered hunger levels. Those who have a protein rich diet have shown weight loss in some studies, by having an increased metabolism rate, performance level and energy. They will also retain lean muscle mass and lose excess body fluid due to less carbohydrate intake.
But what if i'm not a meat eater?
There are so many sources of protein out there, it doesn't matter whether you are a meat eater, pescatarian, vegan or veggie! Most people believe a majority comes from meat, but plants also contain a natural protein. Look out for pulses, nuts, seed, soya and grains if meat doesn't take your fancy.
Here are some options I have found to be the best sources below
Whole eggs contain 6g of protein each, with the egg white being the purest of protein. It's full of good fats including omega 3’s, and vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support the immune, eye and bone system. They are filling, nutritious and great with any meal, I love them poached with mashed avocado in the morning!
One of the healthiest grains out there, with 1 cup can provide 11g protein plus another 6g with ¾ cup of 1% milk! Full of vitamins, fibres and antioxidants, they help with blood flow and itching. Meanwhile the good bacteria within the grain, assists with the function of the digestive tract. Having rolled oats with fruit and milk (or water) in the morning, will keep you fuller for longer and reduce that 11am biscuit!
Cheese has a bad rep, but I can assure you this is a staple of many fitness enthusiasts' diets. It's low in fat, and high in protein with one cup providing 28g. The high calcium levels are great for your bones, and research has shown dairy can help aid fat burning.
One of the most widely used meats in today's diet, with 53g of protein per chicken breast and it being low in fat and calories you can see why. What you probably didn't know is that it is brim full of calcium and minerals such as magnesium, which studies have shown to have a positive effect on PMS symptoms! Ever wondered why chicken soup is the go to for being poorly, well it increases the function of your immune cells, so get out that soup maker!
Great in any meal, cold or hot this protein source is a high quality and lean choice. It's low in calories and saturated fat, but provides a great source of omega three fats aiding brain function (always eaten before an exam obvisually!).
One can will provide you with a whopping 27g protein, and I find it great to eat on a salad with a poached egg.
Often known as a superfood, this health grain is gluten free and contains 8g of protein per cup. It's full of iron and magnesium, whilst providing enough fibre to keep your gut in fine form. It's plant compounds provide health benefits, whilst increasing metabolism and suppressing appetite due to fullness. This low Glycemic index (GI) source improves blood sugar control, helping with weight loss and is easy to incorporate into any diet. Try mixing quinoa in with a salad, it will provide an amazing texture with a nutty taste, and a great alternative to rice or pasta!
This plant based legume can provide 18g protein per cup and is commonly becoming known within the superfood world. It's seen as a complex carbohydrate which helps burn fat, spike metabolism and fill you up, aiding weight loss. Being low in fat and nutrient dense it's a great addition to meals. A lentil curry is a great way to feed the family, I know my 11 month old loves it.
These sources are all widely available, by increasing your protein to 25-30% some research has shown you can cut cravings, and burn up to 80-100 more calories per day. However please be aware high protein diets can be harmful to those with poor kidney function and heart disease, and they can also lead to nutrient deficiencies if not chosen wisely.
See a dietician, doctor or professional if you're thinking of starting a new diet, or have any of the above conditions, but if you're healthy give it a go!