Proteins are large molecules comprising strings of amino acids which are vital for every living being. They are a structural component of human tissue and our bodies and cells require them to function.
Being part of our skin, bone and muscles, it’s not surprising that they account for about 20% of our body weight. In terms of diet, protein is one of the three macronutrients that we eat, the others being fat and carbohydrates.
How Much Do We Need?
How much protein required can depend on the individual. Age, gender, weight, muscle mass, whether you exercise and a person’s health being among the key ones.
However, 1lb of protein per 1 Kg of body weight is sometimes used as a rough guide to minimum protein requirements. You may need slightly more if you exercise or are recuperating from illness, or injury.
Why do we need to eat it?
While the human body is perfectly capable of producing certain amino acids, there are many essential ones which can only be acquired though your diet.
Animal and Plant Proteins
Protein can be gained from eating animal products and vegetables/pulses. But there is a difference. Animal proteins are ‘complete’ protein and contain all the essential amino acids. Vegetable proteins are incomplete proteins and lacking some of these essential amino acids which is why vegetarians or vegans are encouraged to eat a wide variety of foods to increase protein intake.
High Protein Foods
Beans/Soy –all beans, plus tofu, soymilk and split peas
Nuts and seeds – all good non animal sources of protein