Protein Power Up Your Day!
We’ve all heard that getting enough protein is important. Protein is being added to everything from breakfast cereal to granola bars, and it’s easy to understand why. Protein does so much of the heavy lifting in our bodies (haha). It’s an essential component of every cell in our bodies. Here’s your primer on why protein is so important!
Why is eating enough protein important?
Every cell in your body is made largely of protein. It’s needed for your cells to function properly and for your body to be able to synthesize new cells. Protein is also needed for building and maintaining muscle mass – and no, that doesn’t only matter for bodybuilders! As we get older or lose weight, we tend to lose muscle mass. Getting enough protein can prevent muscle loss and helps all of our muscles function properly, whether we’re working out intensely or just walking the dog.
Research shows that diets adequate in protein help control your appetite and keep you satisfied, help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. No wonder it’s such a darling of the nutrition and fitness world!
How much protein do I need?
The amount of protein you need depends on several factors such as your age, weight, activity level, and health status. A general rule of thumb is to get at least 0.4 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. So if you weigh 140 pounds, you’ll need at least 56 grams of protein every day.
When you eat a 100 gram serving of Gabriella’s Kitchen skinnypasta HIGH PROTEIN, you’re getting 21 grams of high quality protein. That’s more protein than the same amount of eggs! I do love eggs, but enjoying a bowl of skinnypasta sounds like a delicious way to put a dent in your daily protein requirements, am I right?
Which foods are high in protein?
Why should I eat a variety of protein foods?
Not all protein is created equal. Protein-rich foods are made up of various amino acids, and your body needs certain amounts of key amino acids through food every day to function properly. These are called essential amino acids.
Only some protein sources are considered “complete proteins”, meaning they supply you with all of the essential amino acids. Poultry, fish, meat, eggs and milk products are considered complete proteins, while plant-based protein sources only contain some of the essential amino acids.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, not to worry. By including a variety of plant-based protein sources such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds in your diet each day, your body will piece together all of the essential amino acids it needs to create protein.
Another bonus: plant-based proteins offer additional health benefits. Research shows that eating plant-based protein is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and even living longer! Plant-based proteins offer key nutrients such as fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals that you won’t get in animal-based proteins. Plus they’re cholesterol-free and contain little if any saturated fat.
How do I add more protein to my day?
Make sure each meal and snack you eat contains at least one protein-rich food from the list above. Here are some tips on how to increase the protein in what you’re already eating.
Add Greek yogurt to your morning smoothie or add it to your overnight oats (link to my recipe) to get more protein. Add a plant-based protein source such as slivered almonds, walnuts, chia seeds or hemp seeds to your breakfast for the added benefit of heart-healthy fats.
While grain products do contain some amino acids, they tend to be lower in protein and are mostly carbohydrate. The exception? Gabriella’s Kitchen skinnypasta HIGH PROTEIN! Up your protein intake at lunch and dinner by using this pasta to benefit from high quality plant-based protein. You can even boost your skinnypasta dishes (and other savoury dishes) with beans or lentils for more vegetarian protein, or with seafood or lean ground turkey if desired.
Adding protein-rich foods to your snacks boosts your satiety and gives you more stable energy levels throughout the day. Try boiled edamame as a snack, or eat your fruit with some cheese or natural nut butter. Hardboiled eggs, roasted chickpeas, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are also filling high protein snacks. Try this Healthier Spinach Dip with Greek yogurt to up the protein in your veggies and dip!
By eating a variety of protein-rich foods alongside fruits, veggies, and whole grains, you’ll be giving your body just what it needs to be the healthiest, strongest and leanest it can be!
MSc, RD, President of 80 Twenty Nutrition
Twitter and Facebook: @80twentyrule
P.S. Compare the protein and nutrition between 100g of skinnypasta and other sources of protein below!