Have you ever wondered what the benefits of eating protein foods are? And do you know other sources of protein besides meat? In this post you will learn all this and more.
The recommended protein amount for a healthy adult is 0.8 to 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. Of course, it does depend on the health status of the person, age, pregnancy or breastfeeding status.
In other words, if you weight 60kgs, you should work towards 60 grams of protein a day through your diet. Although you may think this is a lot of protein, you are actually getting it through many food sources, not just from meat. Balancing the intake of plant-based and animal-based proteins is also important for maintaining an optimal health.
Health Benefits of Protein
Satiety and Blood Sugar
Protein keeps you full for a longer period as it plays big role in satiety. Besides being beneficial for reducing weight, it is also useful for modulating your levels of blood sugar. Consuming meals rich in protein keep the levels of blood sugar stable, reducing the chances of blood sugar spikes and drops. This in turn prevents craving for sugar, especially when combined with a high fiber meal.
The amino acids which make up proteins are essential for the creation of neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for regulation of mood, sleep, and anxiety, so you can see the link between protein and mood.
If you suffer from moodiness or sleep disorders, it’s time to double check what you are putting inside your body. This includes increasing the protein foods in your diet, and including them in each of your meal in order to improve the production of neurotransmitters.
Proteins contain amino acids which improve the function of the immune system, thus lowering the risk of infections. The ability of your body to fight infections and ailments is closely connected to healthy muscle mass. It’s simple, the stronger your body is, the easier is for it to combat various infections.
Muscle Repair and Health
You may think that proteins build muscles, but the truth is they help their growth and repair in conjunction with the correct exercise. Muscles give you the energy and strength to move. If you have more lean muscle, you burn more fat even when you sleep. You can think of muscles as your body’s power houses. Furthermore, proteins are important constituents of hair, skin, and cells.
Where to Get Protein?
Here are 15 ways to include protein in your daily diet.
1. Add Quinoa to Your Salad
The protein content in quinoa is higher than that of carbs. It’s cooked very simple, just like you cook rice. You can even store cooked quinoa in the fridge and use it as a salad addition, to boost its protein content.
2. Eat Eggs
Eggs are excellent, plus cheap source of protein. You can prepare them in various ways, but if you don’t have enough time you can boil few eggs in the evening, and take them to work.
3. Add Natural Yogurt to Your Cereal
Usually, breakfast cereals are low in protein but high in refined carbs. But, if you combine them with natural yogurt and some ground seeds and nuts, you will improve their protein content.
4. Snack on Nuts and Seeds
Carrying seeds and nuts around with you is a convenient way to have protein and good fats nearby. Try to get the raw variety, or you can spice them up with spices and herbs whenever you get bored with them.
5. Boost Your Smoothie
Smoothies are a great and tasty way to get lots of nutrients at the same time. But, it’s not rare when they lack protein. To improve the protein content of your smoothies, add some high-quality protein powder which will keep you full for longer.
6. Super Salad
To add crunchiness, flavor, and protein in your salad, just sprinkle some ground seeds and nuts. If you dry roast them with some tamari, you will get a great flavor sensational taste.
7. Old School Meat and Three Vegetables
When you’re in a hurry, the easiest way to get the proper nutrients is turning to the basics. So a quick and nutritious dinner would be a meat or fish with veggies like lentils, edamame, black beans, etc. Avoid vegetable high in starch such as potatoes.
8. Tofu Can Be Delicious
To increase the flavor of the protein-rich tofu, marinate it for several hours before cooking. Well-prepared tofu can be a tasty addition to stews, salads, curries, etc.
9. Brown Rice instead of White Rice
Brown rice contains much higher amounts of protein than white rice, so whenever you think of preparing or adding rice in your diet, use the brown variety.
10. Add Legumes
Legumes are high in protein, and their delicious taste and versatility allow you to combine them in various dishes. For instance, add beans when making burritos, or lentils when making Bolognese or soups. Don’t forget to wash them well before using.
11. Fall in Love with Hummus
Hummus dip is an excellent way to include proteins in your diet. Plus, it’s inexpensive and easy to prepare.
12. Make Energy Balls
Just blend whatever seeds and nuts you have at the moment, with some dried fruit, honey, and tahini, and roll to make small balls. In this way you’ll get protein-rich and delicious snack that will boost your energy. Store them in an airtight container in your fridge, and eat them whenever you like to get a protein and energy boost.
13. Salad with Tuna
If you plan to eat a green salad, just add a tin of high-quality tuna which you can find in any supermarket. In this way, your nutrient-poor salad will turn into a meal rich in protein and good fats. That will boost your energy levels.
14. Falafels are Yummy
Besides buying pre-made falafels from supermarkets or healthy food stores, you can also make your own. Add them to your salads or combine them with a hummus dip.
15. Plan Ahead
An important part in increasing your protein intake is planning your meals ahead. In this way, you will prevent yourself from making bad food choices that lack protein and other important nutrients.
If you follow all, or at least some of these 15 tips, you will not only increase your protein intake and get the above explained benefits form proteins, but you will also reduce your sugar and processed food cravings, keep you full for longer and boost your energy levels.