We all know that we should eat more protein, to be more energetic. And we sort of know where to find it; meat, fish, eggs, and so on. But do we really know what it is? And how to properly balance it in our diet? How much do we need, and son on. Here are a few questions answered for you.
1. For starters: what’s a protein actually and why do we need it?
When I started to write this article I was like, of course, I know what a protein is (as a vegetarian I have to compensate for the lack of meat/fish I’m NOT eating…) BUT I wanted to find a simple definition and when you go on WIKIPEDIA it goes like this:
Proteins (/ˈproʊˌtiːnz/ or /ˈproʊti.ᵻnz/) are large biomolecules, or macromolecules, consisting of one or more long chains of amino acid residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including catalysing metabolic reactions, DNA replication, responding to stimuli, and transporting molecules from one location to another. Proteins differ from one another primarily in their sequence of amino acids, which is dictated by the nucleotide sequence of their genes, and which usually results in protein folding into a specific three-dimensional structure that determines its activity.
Yep, I made the same face as you right now. It’s a lot of information. So to make it more simple, I narrowed it down to a few lines.
Proteins are chains of amino acids (they are special organic molecules used to make proteins) And you have thousands of different proteins just in the human body. We need these proteins to help us survive and in smaller words; make hair, nails, skin, tendons, dan, muscles and so on. Moreover, our body can’t produce enough proteins on its own, that’s why we need to eat food that contains loads of proteins.
I hope this helps you to understand the word PROTEIN a bit better 😉
2. Where can I find it?
The best and easiest way to get all of the proteins you need is by eating meat, fish, eggs or dairy products on a daily basis. (of course, you don’t need to eat a massive amount of meat every day, but you can vary from all those products)
BUT you can also find PLANT BASED food that will bring you enough protein too!
Such as chickpeas, chia seeds, hemp seeds,… Yes, it is sad to see that spinach is not part of these ingredients, Popeye was probably getting enough iron because he ate 5kg a day of spinach 😉
The thing is with plant-based proteins, you have to eat a lot more of them to get the same amount you would get with just one bite of a chicken burrito for example. (if you read Helen Sander’s article she also explains how many grammes you should take and so on)
And you can find a chart of the Proteins that are plant-based. Click here!
3. How much should I eat daily?
It really depends if you are a woman or a man, what kind of activity you do, your age, your weight,… But the average quantity a man should eat is around 56 grammes per day and for a woman, it is 46 grammes.
On a plant based scale it would mean 2 cups of lentils, 3 cups of hummus or half a cup of chia seeds… That’s a lot of chia seeds 😉 But do not worry, you can reach the average amount by incorporating lots of plant-based food that contains protein throughout the day.
4. Why we need it?
Not only it brings you more energy, but if you are an athlete or a very sportive person, you DEFINITELY need more proteins to help rebuild the muscles after an intense training.
It also helps to prevent conditions and illnesses for elderly people.
As a vegetarian, it is extremely important to be careful to add enough protein to your diet and it might be a bit easier if you eat dairy-based products such as eggs or cottage cheese that brings you a lot of proteins in small quantity.
Regardless you can be fine if you are a VEGAN, as we listed above there’s a lot of substitutes that are just plant-based. Try to add these in your diet and you’ll be ready to run a marathon anytime 😉
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And voilà! If you want to know even more about Proteins go here! A great article written by Helen Sanders, she gives you a detailed explanation of the proteins and why it is so useful for our body!