Tired of boiled chicken, shaker bottle protein shakes, and tasteless protein bars? While these protein sources can give you a good amount of protein and nutrients, you may find yourself desiring a more flavorful way to meet your daily protein requirements. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can eat substantial amounts of protein without sacrificing flavor. Before you dive into the delicious recipes we have put together, take some time to review what proteins are and how much you actually need to meet your health and fitness goals.
What is protein?
This macronutrient is found in every tissue in your body. It also makes up important hormones and enzymes that play critical roles in reactions that occur inside your body. Proteins also contain essential amino acids. Poor consumption of essential amino acids could cause your body to decrease protein construction, decrease neurotransmitter production, and increase blood pressure. You can get protein from both animal and plant sources.
Proteins are categorized as complete and noncomplete proteins, depending on their composition. Incomplete proteins do not have all nine essential amino acids and are found in plant sources. These include beans, nuts, and vegetables. Since these proteins sources don’t have all the essential amino acids your body needs, you must supplement your diet with the other amino acids. You can do this by adding plant-based protein sources to your diet, such as soy beans, quinoa, and amaranth that have all 9 essential amino acids. Your body can create any of the other 11 amino acids if you are consuming a nutritious diet that contains a variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, grains, legumes, and healthy fats.
How much protein do I really need?
Protein requirements will vary depending age, body composition, activity level, and health. Before you head out to buy the newest tub of protein powder or box of protein bars, take a few days to analyze your protein intake to see how much you are currently eating. Once you know how much protein you are eating on average each day, you will have a better idea on how much you need to increase or even decrease to meet your daily protein needs and avoid eating an excess amount. As a general rule, it’s good to aim for a daily protein consumption of about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of your body weight. For more detailed info on how much protein you actually need, checkout our podcast episode on protein.