By Courtenay Turner
Don’t be fooled, protein isn’t just for bodybuilders or gym bunnies. In fact, this macronutrient is broken down into amino acids that are used in almost every biological process in the body. This means that everyone – bodybuilder or not – needs to ensure that protein features on their plate.
WHAT ACTUALLY IS PROTEIN?
Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are nitrogen-containing molecules. There are 20 amino acids in total, nine of which are considered “essential”. This is because your body’s cells cannot manufacture them itself – instead, they must be obtained through diet. Different types of proteins possess different sequences of amino acids that allow them to complete different functions within the body. Animal-based proteins like meat and eggs are often called “complete proteins” because they contain a complete spectrum of the “essential” nine. “Incomplete proteins” on the other hand, are generally plant-based and lack one or more of these essential amino acids. Notably, we don’t need to be militant about getting all nine essential amino acids at every meal, so long as our bodies receive them daily.
So, how much protein do I need?
Well, that’s the million dollar question! Answers vary from professional to professional, but most experts suggest that a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is adequate (but not necessarily optimum). Athletes and active people often require more protein in order for their muscles to recover and rebuild after exercise. Ultimately, the amount of protein that an individual requires to function at his or her depends on a whole host of factors: activity level, age, sex and weight. A good indicator however, is hunger. If you’re feeling hungry after a balanced meal, you might need to increase the portion of protein you’re putting on your plate. Conversely, if you’re intake of protein is too high, you may start to experience some unpleasant symptoms like bad breath, constipation and dehydration.
HOW DO I BOOST MY PROTEIN INTAKE?
Given that protein is one of the building blocks of skin tissue, it’s no surprise that an adequate intake of this macronutrient is essential for plump and healthy skin – but this doesn’t mean you need to plate up a steak every day.
Pump up your morning smoothie.
While many people equate eating more protein with eating more meat, there are plenty of quality plant-based proteins on offer. Try adding a wholefood protein powder like BODY Inner Beauty Powder to your morning smoothie to kickstart your day and carry you through to your next meal. Here at The Beauty Chef, we love adding banana, chocolate BODY, nut milk, nut butter and half a frozen zucchini to a blender for a sweet and satisfying morning meal. Get your breakfast right and you set yourself up for success!
Rather than reaching for chocolate or sweets, prepare a protein-rich snack that won't spike your blood sugar levels. Add a scoop of BODY Inner Beauty Powder to a bowl of yoghurt or mix it into a glass of nut milk for a healthy quick fix. Homemade protein balls also make for a wholesome and delicious snack. Try these CHOC, BANANA & TAHINI PROTEIN BALLS when that 3pm energy slump hits!
Help yourself to hemp.
Just 100g of hemp seeds contains an enormous 32g of protein. Boost your daily intake of protein by adding hemp seeds to your salads, sprinkling them on your breakfast or blending them into smoothies. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain approximately 11g of protein, plus a delicious dose of omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are essential for good health, glowing skin and optimal wellbeing.
What's your favourite way to get your daily dose of protein?