As ladies, we get left out of the protein craze because we’re surrounded by products marketed toward the body-building machismos of the world. We can easily forget the importance of such an important aspect to our nutrition.
What is protein?
Protein is essential to maintaining and building muscle and keeping your body healthy. Protein is in every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies and are constantly breaking down and needing to be replaced, which is where eating protein comes in. When you eat protein-rich foods, your body pulls amino acids from the protein and nourishes your cells. Your body doesn’t produce 8 amino acids which you still need to get from the food you eat. “Pure proteins” are what foods with the 8 essential amino acids are called. My favorite pure protein is edamame, or more commonly known as soybeans. They are surprisingly delicious!
How much protein do we need?
The Harvard School of Public Health has great resources on how much protein you need for your weight and the benefits of getting the right amount.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day—that’s about 64 grams for a 160 pound adult. In the U.S., adults get an average of 15 percent of their calories from protein. For a person who requires a 2,000-calorie-per-day-diet, that’s about 75 grams of protein. In healthy people, increasing protein intake to 20 to 25 percent of calories can reduce the risk of heart disease, if the extra protein replaces refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice or sugary drinks. Higher protein diets can also be beneficial for weight loss, combined with a reduced-calorie diet.
Where can we find protein?
Protein is found in the following foods:
- meats, poultry, and fish
- legumes (dry beans and peas)
- nuts and seeds
- milk and milk products
- grains, some vegetables and some fruits (provide only small amounts of protein relative to other sources)
Next time you reach for a snack, think about grabbing a handful of unsalted almonds, steamed edamame or a glass of low-fat chocolate milk. And then show those machismos who’s boss without needing the help of protein shakes.
-The Healthy Latina