When you hear the word protein, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Protein shakes and protein bars? Athletes? Bodybuilders? Weight lifters?
High protein foods were originally targeted at these active individuals whose main goals were to get bigger, better, faster, and stronger. While this traditional group is still the main focus of many companies, high protein claims are becoming more and more popular with the average consumer and health-conscious individuals. Nowadays, protein has gone all-inclusive! Instead of focusing strictly on performance and muscle gains, the focus has shifted to anybody looking for a quick and convenient way to boost their health. And with the recent rise in high protein foods, everything from pasta to rice, cookies to chips, has also been fortified or reformulated to fit this growing trend–this makes it easier than ever to get your daily protein intake! With so many new high-protein food options, the days of forcing yourself to swallow unappetizing, tasteless protein is over! Here’s the rundown before you start cranking up the protein!
What is Protein?
Protein is an essential macronutrient that your body needs in order to survive and function properly. It’s found throughout your body–in muscle, skin, hair, bones, and virtually all body tissue. You are made up of protein! Protein is your building block, and its building blocks are amino acids. Amino acids can either be non-essential or essential. Non-essential amino acids can be made naturally from scratch by your body, while essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by your body and must be obtained from your diet.
Different Sources Of Protein
Not all protein is created equal. Protein can come from animal sources or plant-based sources–the main difference being the amino acids that they can provide. Any protein source that provides you with all of the essential amino acids is considered to be a “complete protein”. Fish, beef, poultry, and dairy are great sources of complete protein! While legumes, nuts, and seeds are considered to be “incomplete proteins” since they don’t provide you with all of the essential amino acids. For example, grains are limited in lysine, while legumes are limited in methionine, both of which are essential amino acids. But there are also exceptions–quinoa, chickpeas, baruka nuts, and soy products such as tofu and tempeh are great plant-based sources of complete protein. Generally, animal-based proteins provide you with all of the essential amino acids, while many plant-based proteins may be low sources of them or missing one or more.
This is why it’s especially important for those on a vegan and plant-based diet to make sure they’re getting enough protein in their diet. Eating these “incomplete proteins” is not enough to give your body all of the amino acids it needs. One way to overcome this hurdle is by combining various incomplete protein sources together, like a puzzle, to make sure you’re getting all of the amino acids that you need in a day.
As a general rule, grains, seeds, or nuts can be eaten together with dried beans, peas, or lentils to make a complete protein. For some delicious inspiration, try a combination of rich almond and lentil dark chocolate spread, cereal made from toasted beans and rice, or hearty bean soup with corn bread.
The Importance of Protein
Generally, everyone should aim for 10-35% of their calories to come from protein. You could also determine the minimum and maximum amount of protein to consume daily by using these simple calculations:
Minimum Daily Protein Intake: 0.8g of protein x your body weight in kilograms
Maximum Daily Protein Intake: 2g of protein x your body weight in kilograms
A lot of your body is made up of this stuff! And making sure you’re getting enough protein every day is crucial to your health. It plays an important role in your body, including:
Protein plays a part in just about everything that goes on in your body! And with these crucial roles, you can understand why eating a high protein diet has been shown to have benefits like weight loss, decreased appetite, muscle building, and increased metabolism. And without enough of this important macronutrient, it’d be difficult for your body to operate smoothly. You can experience negative side effects like:
The Rise of Protein-Infused Foods
With more and more protein-enriched foods lining store shelves, it’s easier than ever to find a high-protein food that suits your lifestyle, tastes, and needs. This move has brought a plethora of food options that you probably previously avoided or had negative connotations with for being branded as “unhealthy”. Whether you have a sweet tooth or want a hearty meal, there are endless options available for any time of day!
With the rise of protein-infused foods, you can finally nourish your body, satisfy any cravings, and fill your tummy up with delicious and nutritious foods! Gone are the days of chalky and tasteless protein. Here at Natura Market, we have thousands of the latest and greatest high-protein foods for you to try–no matter your diet or lifestyle!