We are encouraged to eat plenty of protein, but why do we need it, and how much do we need?
Proteins are the building blocks required for the development and growth of muscles, organs and tissues. It also plays an important role in repairing our cells and in the production of hormones and antibodies. They form the major structural component in our bodies.
Proteins consist of amino acids some of which our bodies cannot store, which means we need to obtain them through diet.
How much should we eat?
Protein requirements vary from person to person. However, as a guide The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight. So if you weigh 60kg, you require 48 grams of protein per day.
Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, Melanie McGrice says some people may require slightly higher intakes. These include pregnant or breastfeeding women, people wanting to build muscle or lose weight, and the elderly.
“The amount of protein required depends upon individuals and their goals. People trying to lose weight often require more, along with those aiming to increase muscle mass,” she says.
“Protein plays a big part in making new cells and wound healing, so people with wounds or who are recovering from surgery also need more.”
McGrice says as we age, we experience a decrease in muscle mass, so older people may also need to increase their protein intake.
Not getting enough protein
Not consuming adequate amounts of protein can lead to a range of health issues such as muscle breakdown, reduced wound healing and compromised immunity, according to McGrice.
The best sources of protein
When it comes to protein the best foods to eat include:
- lean meat, poultry and fish
- dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese
- seeds and nuts
- beans and legumes
- soy products such as tofu
A supplement can also help build protein.
Choosing the best protein supplement
McGrice believes protein supplements can be useful, and advises choosing one to suit your needs. But with so many out there, how do you determine the good from the bad?
The key is looking at the ingredient list.
Most protein supplements consist of powdered forms of protein from soy, pea or dairy (whey or casein).
Many believe the highly popular whey protein is the superior form of supplement. However, this is not always the case. Some people have trouble digesting dairy, and therefore a whey or casein protein can cause a host of problems, including bloating, stomach cramps and gas. In addition, a dairy-based protein is not suitable for those following a vegan-based diet. Soy can also be problematic for people who suffer from soy allergies.
For those reasons, pea protein may be preferable.
Despite popular belief, pea protein is a naturally complete protein. It has a complete amino acid profile and is easily digested. Free from common allergens such as gluten, lactose and soy, it is well tolerated — meaning no bloating or digestive problems.
Beware of additives
As well as the source of protein, you should be aware of what else the supplement contains and whether these additions support your goals. Many products contain carbohydrates and some may also contain additives, thickeners, and artificial sweeteners — all of which can cause digestive problems in people with sensitivities.
If you want to invest in a high quality protein supplement, you can’t go past Vital Protein. A complete protein supplement, Vital Protein is extracted from the highest quality European golden peas and is the most balanced amino acid profile of any plant based protein. It also has the highest bio-availability due to a unique extraction process that allows access to the full amino acid profile.
This easy-to-digest protein is suitable for vegans and is free from dairy, lactose, gluten, soy and wheat, making it perfect for sensitive tummies. And because Vital Protein is free from nasty additives, you can be assured it only contains pure and natural nutrition, making it the obvious choice when it comes to protein supplements.
Containing over 18 amino acids and sweetened with natural sweetener, Thaumatin TM the highly-trusted Vital Protein range comes in a range of great flavours — vanilla, chocolate, decaffeinated green coffee , and unflavoured.
Ideal for use in sports, weight control or as a source of valuable amino acids, getting your protein has never been easier, or tastier.