One of the messages I am so passionate to get across is the essential need for protein as part of our diet. It makes up our body structure, muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes, internal organs (the heart in particular). It makes our blood and immune system, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters (they are the brains chemicals that transmit signals throughout our body). Protein is important for growth and maintaining muscles and body tissues.
What people don’t seem to realise is that by not ingesting enough protein the body begins to look for sources elsewhere. We are not able to store excess proteins like fats and carbs. So when the body does not get enough from the food we eat, it is taken from the muscles and bones, tissues and organs. Our immunity drops, our blood sugar levels are affected. We become acidic and start to hold body fat. Our muscles lose definition, we get tired, tissues and organs show signs of degeneration. This can take time and some people are more susceptible than others.
The image above gives a basic idea of how proteins are synthesised in the body. If you look at the ‘flag’ near the top of the image, these are amino acids and they are made from proteins. In order to function, 20 amino acids are needed. If you can imagine the picture of someone who does not eat enough protein, there would be ‘flags’ missing. The amino acid chain is ‘broken’ and so the body cannot do its job properly. It is when these chains are broken that the body begins to look to the bones, muscles etc to fill in the gaps. This dangerous cycle then leads to fatigue, muscle wasting, osteoporosis, compromised organ tissue etc.
Most people today are lacking in protein and are put off by fad diets that are on the market. It is not about eating excess proteins or looking like a body builder! It is just about meeting your natural requirements. The average female needs approximately 60-70g of pure protein everyday and males need 70-80g. When you are more active this figure can increase by 20-30g. There is a great App on the Apple store called ‘myfitnesspal’. It is a great tool to count your daily intake and I highly recommend you give it a try. You can even use your phone to scan barcodes and it gives you the nutritional content straight away.
One thing people don’t understand is how to count proteins. For example, a 100g piece of steak has 26-30g of pure protein. It is the pure protein figure you are counting. If you are tired a lot, lacking in energy, moody, hormonal, working out etc then I strongly suggest you have a look at your own protein intake. Have a play with it as it can make the world of difference to your life. Just remember to get a good balance of throughout your day at each meal. Don’t rely on just one source. Eat a salad with lean meat but incorporate seeds and nuts. Legumes are a source of protein but are also carbs, so a lamb stew with legumes would be a great way to bulk up your dinner.