If it seems like protein is in the spotlight lately, it’s for good reason! Protein is extremely important for just about every system within our body. I’ll explain what it is and why it’s so important in a moment. But first let’s chat history briefly. The diet industry is a multibillion dollar entity that banks on us failing. When “they” come up with an idea, it quickly becomes a trend and before we blink there are thousands of new “foods” on the store shelves. Remember the early 90’s when fat was the bad guy and all the processed foods were suddenly “fat free”? Diabetes increased as a result. Fast forward to the early 2000’s when carbs got the boot and suddenly everything was labeled “low carb”. Cholesterol catapulted to a health concern for more Americans than ever before. Then came the vegan awareness phase that we are still largely experiencing with a lot of Netflix documentaries to support the research. Realize, no one has ever argued to eliminate protein in the way fat and carbs were once banned. Even vegans realize the importance of protein and they blog, insta, and chat all about vegan sources of protein (they do exist).
So what is Protein?
Chemically, protein is composed of amino acids, which are organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are the building blocks of muscle mass, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Proteins are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies (dictionary)
Protein literally contributes to the lean muscle mass on our frame (hello toned bod and faster metabolism) along with the health of our hair, skin, and nails.
Protein also provides a satiety or fullness that the other macros can’t quite pull off. If you find yourself craving sugar or battling brain fog, increase your protein and see how quickly you feel and look better!
Whether you choose to eat in a certain ethical way (or not) it’s important to realize how much your body needs protein and get. It. In!
Personally, protein has been my bestie lately! In all seriousness, over the course of the last 18 months-2 years I was having symptoms that I couldn’t quite figure out. My diet was “balanced”. I had all the common offenders out of the running (gluten free, mostly dairy free, low sugar, no processed food). Yet I was having symptoms that were troublesome. I was loosing my hair in clumps. My doctor would smile looking at my thick hair and run a blood panel to calm my nerves. Everything came back “fine” and within range. Hormonally I was really out of whack, with the most extreme PMS symptoms lasting most of the month. I was suffering from crazy migraines. By definition they’re called aura migraines but they make you feel like you’re going crazy. My energy was low. So low that I woke up in the morning trying to figure out when I could nap during the day and by the evening I felt delirious. And I was hungry, oh so hungry! Despite, eating around 2000 calories a day, I just couldn’t get full and the extra few pounds from those extra calories were annoying. Fast forward to now, every single one of those symptoms are gone and thanks to increasing my protein.
To give you an idea, the FDA recommends 50 grams of protein per day for an adult on a 2000 calorie diet. I was eating more than 50 grams per day when I was feeling my worst. But the FDA also approves of artificial sweeteners and they’ve been linked to brain tumors and cancer so we know how much we can trust that guideline. Another recommendation to consider is 1g of protein for every pound of body weight. This may seem high, but even aiming for that number and gradually increasing your protein intake will give you the information to decide if your body needs more protein. In my case, I certainly did need more protein and I feel so much better now. The energy I have now is mind blowing and every one of the medical symptoms and conditions I mentioned earlier are completely gone. Here are some easy ways to get your protein in…
Where to get your protein?
1. The obvious animal proteins (organic chicken, grass fed beef, wild fish, organic pasture raised eggs)
2. Collagen (our body stops producing collagen at age 25 so this is a great way to supplement the body and get a clean source of protein in)
3. Protein shakes (look for a plant based, low sugar option)
4. Lead with protein at every meal. Pick your protein and then add in your vegetables and whole grains.
5. If you don’t have an issue with dairy, try Greek Yogurt. Because it is strained (hence the Greek version) it has almost double the protein as regular yogurt.