Day 21 - Physical
Pop Quiz! Topic: Protein.
Answer the following questions to see how your protein IQ adds up:
Time’s up! Pencils down. How did you do? Read below to find out if you’re a protein professor or if we need to “meat” for a little tutoring on the subject.
What Is Protein?
Proteins are the main building blocks of our body. Muscle, hair, tissue and skin are all made up primarily of protein. Almost every cell in the body contains some portion of protein in its makeup, which our bodies constantly use to make enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and even DNA. Pretty important stuff, this protein!
Protein is made up of smaller molecules called amino acids. (#1 Answer: C). There are 20 different amino acids. Some of these amino acids cannot be produced by the body and therefore, can only be received through what you eat. They are referred to as “essential” because it is essential your body receive these from diet.
This leads us to “complete” and “incomplete” proteins. A complete protein (sometimes referred to as high-quality protein) is one that provides all of the essential amino acids. Many animal-based foods are considered complete such as meat, fish, milk, eggs and cheese. An incomplete protein is one that is low in one or more essential amino acids. Two incomplete proteins can be eaten together to create what is called a “complementary protein”, or one that contains all the essential amino acids.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
This is a common question among health-aspirers. Consuming appropriate amounts of protein is crucial for weight loss, energy levels, muscle building and an overall healthy body. The Center for Disease Control recommends no more than 35% of your daily calories come from protein (#2 Answer: B). People hitting this percentage were shown to have a boost in metabolism— burning up to 80 to 100 more calories per day compared to those with lower protein diets. For all those wanting an exact number, this is roughly 46 grams of protein daily for women and 56 grams for men (#4 Answer: A). However, as we are all unique, it is always best to calculate your recommended protein intake based on your own body weight. The method often used by nutritionists is to multiply your weight in pounds by .36 to receive your daily minimum protein need. For example, a 140 lb woman should consume about 50 grams of protein daily.
Keep in mind that your protein needs change with your lifestyle. Athletes, for example, require more protein as their body burns through this nutrient. In the case of pregnant women, the Institute of Medicine recommends the minimum protein consumption be increased by about 10 grams daily (#3 Answer: False)
Where Do I Get Protein?
We know what protein is and how much we need... now where do we get it? Whether carnivore or vegetarian, you can receive adequate protein through your diet. All it takes is a little knowledge and some creativity. Most of us have little idea of the protein make-up of the foods we eat daily. Yes, we all know meat is a good source. However, do you know which meats have more protein per serving? Would you be surprised to learn that certain foods like cottage cheese pack a whopping 24 grams of protein per serving? Compare this to sliced turkey breast which contains only 13 grams per serving (#5 Answer: True). To get an idea of how your favorite foods stack up, check out this handy chart:
It's important to keep in mind, my little mathematicians, our earlier lesson on complete versus incomplete proteins. Just because food contains more grams of protein per serving doesn't make it complete in the sense of its nutrient make-up. This means as you tally up proteins to hit your target, make sure you’re selecting ones with the essential amino acids needed for a healthy body. Most meats, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, yogurt and milk are complete proteins which means they contain all the necessary amino acids. Incomplete protein examples are grains, nuts, beans, seeds and peas. This doesn’t mean you should lay off the latter—in fact, I’m a huge proponent of plant-based protein! A recommendation is to get a healthy balance of both plant and animal-based protein. However, if you choose not to eat any meat in your diet, make sure you’re eating a combination of plant-based proteins that create a complete, or complementary protein (learn more about how to do this here). In doing so, you’ll ensure you receive all those necessary building blocks needed to better keep your body going strong.
Whether you aced the answers or got schooled in the protein pop quiz, now is the time to put all your newfound knowledge into action.
Sit down with your significant other and do the simple calculation to determine your daily protein needs (your body weight in pounds multiplied by .36). Once you both have your number, write it on a piece of paper and put it on your fridge. For one day, each of you calculate your protein intake. You may use a chart like the one found here or free apps like My Fitness Pal to calculate the protein content of common foods. Report to each other at the end of the day. Were either of you close? Were you perhaps getting too little or even too much? What types and quality of protein do you each typically eat?
Use today’s simple lesson in protein to create personal goals and make wiser selections in the future. I promise your body will thank you for the education. After all, knowledge—and protein—are power!
Find my family's favorite protein-packed recipe, Mustard and Sage Marinated Chicken, at My Whole Food Habit.
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[jbox title="About the Author:" border="5" radius="15"] Megan is a Doctor of Audiology, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, wife, yoga-lover and ever-evolving health aspirer. Having transformed her own health, she’s eager to help you transform yours. She believes in power in its purest form: FOOD. Whole foods, to be precise. So pick up a fork and join her in a revolution of habits, health and happiness. A WHOLE new life awaits! Read more about her reformation of health and wellness at My Whole Food Habit.[/jbox]