When thinking about Protein a lot of people tend to think meat and protein powder, and bodybuilders use it. That is not the case, protein is a macronutrient that should form the main part of everyones diet! Whether you are a highly active individual, training for a specific purpose, trying to lose or just be fit and healthy it needs to be there !
A macronutrient made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and amino acids. Aminos are the building blocks of protein and form every cell in the body. There are 20 in total and we need 8 of them from our diet as our body can't synthesise them. 1g of protein equals 4cals.
There are many benefits to having a decent intake of protein in your diet:
*Growth and repair of muscles
*Protection against infection/illness
*Stronger hair, nails, skin
These are just a few.
Another great effect of protein is the feeling of fullness after you consume it which is perfect for anyone who is looking to lose weight. It is much effective to have a higher protein diet than to cut out food all together !
The amount of protein you have in your diet will depend on your overall goals as well as how your body feels and reacts to it. It is recommended if you are training and highly active you want to have about 2g per kg of body weight and 1.4g per kg is a good place to start for everyone else.
The best way to start getting more protein in your diet is basing your meals around it - yes breakfast and snacks as well!! Get a fistful of lean protein, then add the fat source and veggies and depending on the meal your handful of carbs as well. About 30% of your diet should be protein and you want to try and get as much as that from food sources as you can.
Animal meat - lean and high quality if you can such as chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish
Eggs - Free range
Dairy - Greek yogurt, cottage cheese,quark, Milk, etc. When looking at these you don't have to go for the low fat options in fact full fat can sometimes be better due to the less sugar content. Just check the labelling and make sure no added rubbish is in them.
Dairy free alternatives: Soy, almond, coconut - Just remember the amount of protein will be slightly less.
Pulses- can be seen as more of a carb source however if you are vegetarian or vegan they can be a great way to get the protein in.
The same is for quorn, tofu and quinoa
Seeds and nuts also have protein but beware of the higher fat content.
Finally the supplement Protein Powder. Not an ideal source of protein as it is manufactured however it can be handy to have some for when you can't get hold of some protein. You can add it to smoothies, oats, bakes as well as handy on the go drink if needed after the gym. Whey or a Vegan Blend.
Protein will make women bulky! NO :You do not have enough testosterone in you body for that, it takes us a long time to build our muscle mass and thats with a hard training programme and decent diet. What protein will do for you ladies is keep you full and help build the lean muscle you want (combined with exercise obviously ).
Protein is too expensive - As you can see from the list above there are loads of food that contain protein and most of these you can buy from your local supermarket. It is about being clever and planning what you are going to use. Bulk make meals so you are always prepared as well.
Only weightlifters should have lots of protein: EVERYONE needs protein! We need it to live and survive. It is not just for bodybuilders or people in prep. And to be fair we should all be incorporating some resistance based training into our lifestyle anyway.
I hope this has proved helpful if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask :) I would also recommend having a look at Ben Coomber for nutritional help and information.