Why Is Protein Important?
Are you getting enough protein in your diet? It’s common to watch your calories, sugar and salt intake, but it’s equally as important to make sure that you’re getting enough protein to stay healthy. Protein plays an important role in the creation and maintenance of every cell in your body. Protein is a necessary component of any diet because it fuels your cells so you have the energy you need to stay active.
Here are some other important facts about protein:
- Essential macronutrient, which means you need an adequate amount of protein in your diet to stay healthy
- Needed to maintain muscle mass
- Helps with keeping blood sugars stable
- Maintains hunger
- Responsible for growth, repair and maintenance of cells – amino acids are the building blocks of protein – they play a major role in hair growth
- Not getting enough protein in your diet can result in your body utilizing muscle for energy
- Builds muscle, cartilage and skin
- Plays a role in hormonal regulation
How to get more protein in your diet?
In the United States, people get most of their protein from animal sources, such as meat, fish, and eggs. People who follow a vegan diet must make sure they eat enough plant-based protein to get the nutrients they need and meet their dietary requirements. Here are some simple ways to boost your protein intake and make sure you’re maintaining a healthy diet:
- Try to aim for at least the size of a deck of cards of protein per meal
- Aim for lean protein sources
- Egg whites, eggs, chicken, fish, shellfish, pork
- Have a serving of protein with your snack (7 grams of protein is equal to one serving of protein)
- Apple and peanut butter
- Carrots and cheese stick
- Celery and hard boiled egg
- Add in some healthy fats for a snack that have protein in them
- Peanut butter, cashews, almonds
- Switch to Greek yogurt as Greek yogurt has more protein
- If you don’t like the texture or taste of Greek yogurt, make a smoothie with some frozen fruit to give it some texture and flavor (i.e., banana, raspberries)
- Snack on roasted chickpeas – great carbohydrate and protein source
Some people have difficulty getting enough protein in their diet, simply because they might not like protein-rich foods or they might have difficulty finding foods that they do like. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits, such as taking in too many carbs. Following these tips can help you get more protein, maintain a healthy diet, and stay healthy. If you need help or more ideas on how to get more protein, consult with a nutritionist to identify foods rich in protein that could be added to your diet.