Updated: Aug 10, 2022
When I started working with Green Farm one of the things we discussed was making sure to include enough protein in all the meals, particularly in for vegetarians and vegans. Many more people are opting for plant based diets these days, especially in January, and as a Nutritional Therapist 'Help Me Healthy' is trying to support people to eat well with whatever diet course they choose.
Whatever your choice it is imperative you eat enough protein!
Protein is an essential macronutrient for growth and repair of the body and muscles. We get protein in our diets from amino acids, the building blocks of protein. There are 8 amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, so we must consume these through food.
Where does protein come from? Protein comes from meat, fish and dairy, and in a plant based diet it comes from legumes, soy, nuts and seeds, and of course from vegetables in smaller amounts.
Vegetarian foods that are from animals (cheese, milk and eggs) contain a good balance of essential amino acids but we cannot rely solely on these to replace meat and fish as it may lead to excess consumption of saturated fats and an iron deficiency. However, some other vegetarian food groups have imbalances of amino acids, so it is important to eat a range of vegetarian sources of protein throughout the day.
If you do eat cheese and milk, make sure you try and buy those from grass-fed cows, sheep and goats so you get the healthy fats in your diet. Some organic milk is from grass fed cows, Yeo Valley certainly is.
Because all animal protein is cut out in a vegan diet, is therefore necessary to supplement as there are vitamins that you are likely to become deficient in over time. Mainly Vitamin B12 and iron.
How much protein do we need? We need to eat in the region of 1g of protein per kg of our body weight. Here’s a list of protein sources you can checkout to see if you’re getting enough: CLICK HERE.
So why is protein so important? Most people eat enough protein but to prevent deficiency some individuals would do better to have a much higher protein intake such as in pregnancy, states of ill health (other than kidney disease) or those recovering from injury.
Protein is also essential if you are someone who is looking to lose weight and curb those sugar cravings. If you are a person that gets hungry quickly and gets tired after lunch then you may easily have a little insulin resistance. That means that the insulin you produce is not being used to its full potential by the body. This leads to blood sugar levels going up and down, causing hunger, tiredness and sugar cravings. So eating protein for every meal, including breakfast can help to stabilise those fluctuations.
The power of protein: – reduces appetite and hunger levels – reduces cravings and the desire for late night snacking – boosts metabolism and increases fat burning – helps maintain weight loss – is needed for growth and repair of tissues – is needed good digestion, energy production, blood clotting and muscle contraction – regulates hormones such as insulin (uptake of sugar into cells) and glucagon (breakdown of stored sugar in liver) – is needed for structure, strength and elasticity (essential for movement) – maintains acid/base balance (vital to good health) – for fluid balance (helps lower blood pressure) – for antibodies to protect your body from foreign invaders – for storage such as ferritin for iron storage
So you can see why your protein intake is vital. Remember you need to eat 1g per kg body weight unless you are body building or have kidney disease. For more information or to speak to me in more detail please contact me via email@example.com or call/message me on 07831 225 841