How Much Protein Are You Getting?

Nutrition labels show how much protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins are in the food we’re eating.  But do you know how much protein you need in your diet to stay healthy?  There are a lot of products out in the market that boast of being protein-enriched, but what is the best source of protein?

Each individual’s protein requirements vary depending on age and gender.  Infants need an average of 10 grams a day.  Teenage boys require a maximum of 52 grams a day while girls need 46 grams.  Adult men need an average of 56 grams and women about 46 grams a day.  However, pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding need up to 71 grams of protein in their daily diet.

Protein requirement can also be measured as a percentage of calories.  The USDA recommends that we get 17% to 21% of calories from protein; the Institute of Medicine recommends 10% to 35%.

Do You Have Enough Protein in Your Diet?

Based on a survey conducted in 2003 to 2004, it was found that most of us are not getting the recommended amount of protein to stay healthy.  In adolescent females, 7.7% were not getting the minimum protein requirement and 8% of adult women also were not hitting the minimum mark.

Based on total calorie proportions, the survey showed that protein intake of children was below the recommended amount, the median intake was only 13.4%.  In men 51 to 70 years of age, the consumption amount of calories in protein was only 16%.

Why Is Protein Important?

Proteins are indispensable to many of our physiological processes.  They help in building muscles and bones and keep cells healthy.

Consuming the required amount of protein regularly also results in sustained weight loss.  The more proteins there are in the food you eat, the more satiating the meal is.  A study showed that an increase of protein between 15% to 30% of total calories and a decrease of fat between 35% to 20% of calories promoted weight loss.

Where Do You Find the Healthiest Source of Protein?

It is general knowledge that we can get our protein from meat, fish, dairy, whole grains, beans, nuts, eggs, and vegetables.  You can get all the protein you need in a day if you consume meat daily, but vegetarians can also get their daily recommended amount of protein if they know where to look.

Protein-rich food can either be good or bad health-wise depending on what else it contains.  When it comes to meat, you should always choose lean meat, which is low in saturated fat.  The oils in fish help prevent heart disease that is why fish is always an excellent source of protein.  Dairy products are also abundant in protein, but because they are also rich in dietary cholesterol, they are not recommended for people with high cholesterol levels.  Beans and nuts are not only great sources of protein but are also rich in fiber and phytochemicals; phytochemicals lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Plant proteins are the healthier choice compared to animal proteins.  Studies showed that people in China who consumed plant-based proteins had lower rates of heart disease as compared to those who consumed animal-based proteins.  In the U.S., protein from beef was more likely to raise cholesterol levels in older men than soy-based protein.

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is important that we get our protein from a variety of sources.  We could do ourselves a lot of good if we veer away from meat loaded with saturated fat and lean more towards lean meats.  The healthier approach is also to choose plant-based protein if you are very conscious of your diet.  Including the right source of protein in every meal will not only make you feel more satiated, but will also help maintain a healthier body.

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