Importance of Protein in your diet
Eating enough protein on a daily basis is absolutely essential due to its important role in so many of the bodies functions.
It’s necessary to eat protein throughout the day, at regular intervals, because our bodies cannot store protein. For example, carbohydrates and fat can be used for energy or stored in the same form (carbohydrate and fat). However, excess protein eaten is just broken down for energy or stored as fat tissue. It can’t be stored as protein molecules. For this reason, it’s important to ensure a steady supply of protein in each meal and snack.
Some of the functions that protein is used for:
- Maintenance and building muscle tissue: very important for those who want to keep their lean muscle for body tone appearance.
- Exercise recovery: protein eaten goes towards repairing broken down muscle tissue after a training session to speed up recovery, so if you exercise- take note!
- Cell building: protein is broken down into tiny amino acids (building blocks of protein), which are then sent off to cells around the body to create structures wherever needed.
- Hormones and signaling proteins: we have little things called messenger proteins in our body, which work non-stop to signal for things to happen, such as creating more cells and triggering biological responses.
- Transport of oxygen around the body: hemoglobin is made out of protein This is a crucial molecule that picks up oxygen from the lungs and takes it all around the body
- Digestion: protein makes digestive enzymes, which break down and absorb our food. If there is a protein deficiency, digestion can suffer.
How to get enough protein in your day?
Incorporate high protein foods such as meat, fish, seafood, tofu, tempeh, eggs, nuts, low-fat yoghurt and cheese, protein powders and protein bars.
Aim to eat meals and snacks with these foods three to five times each day for optimal digestion. Protein is absorbed and utilised better across more occasions than a big portion at just one meal as it cannot be stored for later use.
If you’re in a rush, something such as a High Protein meal replacement shake is a great option at breakfast, lunch or dinner, whereas a Rapid Protein Shake or a protein bar is a smaller portion and more suited for a snack time treat.
For more tips, see our other blogs in our “dietitians corner” here.