Protein is more than just a source of nutrients that will bulk you up and gain muscle. It is an essential part of everyone’s diet to stay healthy. But what is the right amount of protein to be consumed every day? Are we getting too much, not enough, or just the right amount? Before we dive in we will need to understand the why.
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Importance of Protein
Protein’s main role in the body is to provide the amino acids that we cannot produce ourselves. There are a total of 20 amino acids that our bodies need in order to function but the body can make 11 of them. This is vital in order for certain roles in the body to work properly like generating hormones, building muscle mass, and aiding in digestion.
The Benefits of Protein
Unlike carbohydrates, protein is not seen as a controversial food group and provides a lot of benefits for the body. Protein helps to curb your hunger and stay fuller for longer which also aids in weight loss. Having a high protein diet can increase your metabolism and in the process burn more calories. Protein is the best way to help recover and replenish your body after physical activity. Protein has recovery properties of restoring tissue and muscles which helps to heal faster after an injury.
What’s the Right Daily Intake?
The average American consumes more protein daily than the recommended average. Unless you are working out a lot and trying to gain muscle, excess protein intake will lead to weight gain. The USDA suggests the serving size of protein at each meal should be the size of our palm.
Depending on how active we also indicate how much protein we should be consuming on a daily basis. The recommended amount for an average or sedentary man is 56 to 60 grams per day. For moderately active men, it is 75-90 grams; for highly active, it is about 136 grams per day.
Types of Protein
Now that you know how much protein you need daily, it is also important to also know your options. When you think of protein what comes to mind? Chicken, pork, eggs, or even fish? All animal proteins which is pretty explanatory. It is always good to switch up your sources of protein to keep cholesterol levels healthy.
Protein powder is a quick fix with lots of grams of protein-packed into it. There are lots to choose from on the market with many different varieties according to your lifestyle and diet. Choose the type of protein you want whether it is whey, soy, egg, or hemp. But what you do not want in your protein powder is any type of sugar or artificial sweetener.
Plant protein is also another option to consider. If you are vegan or plant-based it is best to supplement your source of B12. This specific B vitamin can only be found in animal products. Plant protein is for everyone, not just for people who choose not to eat animal protein. High plant protein options would include tofu, beans, quinoa, and edamame. These are all lean protein sources because they have zero grams of cholesterol.
To answer the question of if you are getting enough protein the answer is most likely yes. Developed countries do not tend to have protein deficiencies which means we do not need to increase our intake. We probably consume more protein than we actually need based on how active our lifestyles are. Whatever you choose as your protein of choice it should be based on your health and diet.