Why You Need Protein in Your Diet

 

Why You Need Protein in Your Diet

 

Protein is an essential nutrient found in animal products, nuts, and beans. The name protein name comes from the Greek word protos, which means “first.” Your body uses proteins in your diet to build new cells, maintain tissues, and synthesize new proteins that make it possible for you to perform basic bodily functions.

To visualise a molecule of protein, close your eyes and see a very long chain, rather like a chain of sausage links. The links in the chains are amino acids, commonly known as the building blocks of protein. In addition to carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, amino acids contain a nitrogen (amino) group. The amino group is essential for synthesizing (assembling) specialized proteins in your body.

The human body is packed full of proteins. Proteins are present in the outer and inner membranes of every living cell. Here’s where else protein makes an appearance:

  • Your hair, your nails, and the outer layers of your skin are made of the protein keratin. Keratin is a scleroprotein, or a protein resistant to digestive enzymes. So if you bite your nails, you can’t digest them.
  • Muscle tissue contains myosin, actin, myoglobin, and a number of other proteins.
  • Bone has plenty of protein. The outer part of bone is hardened with minerals such as calcium, but the basic, rubbery inner structure is protein; and bone marrow, the soft material inside the bone, also contains protein.
  • Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. Plasma, the clear fluid in blood, contains fat and protein particles known as lipoproteins, which ferry cholesterol around and out of the body.

About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which are specialized worker proteins that do specific jobs, such as digest food and assemble or divide molecules to make new cells and chemical substances. To perform these functions, enzymes often need specific vitamins and minerals.

Your ability to see, think, hear, and move — in fact, to do just about everything that you consider part of a healthy life — requires your nerve cells to send messages back and forth to each other and to other specialized kinds of cells, such as muscle cells. Sending these messages requires chemicals called neurotransmitters. Making neurotransmitters requires — guess what — proteins.

Finally, proteins play an important part in the creation of every new cell and every new individual. Your chromosomes consist of nucleoproteins, which are substances made of amino acids and nucleic acids.

6 Best Sources of Protein

1. Fish (Line Caught)

It is recommended to consume at least two servings of 75 grams or ½ cup of fish each week. Choose fish such as char, salmon, herring and rainbow trout.

Most fish contains about the same amount of protein as meat, and provides Omega-3, iron and vitamin B-12, important for energy. It’s also a healthy swap for some popular meat options. For example, ounce for ounce, a salmon steak has one fourth the saturated fat of beef steak.

Amount Protein Content Calories
198g (salmon) 41g 400

 

2. Eggs (Free Range & Organic)

One medium egg contains just 70 to 85 calories and about 6.5 grams of protein. That means three eggs provides 19.5 grams of protein: the average woman needs about 50 grams a day, so that’s almost half of your daily intake. (Actual protein needs depend on your weight and level of activity; talk to your healthcare professional to get specific requirements for you). Eating a three-egg Spanish omelette, or three scrambled or poached eggs on toast, will keep you full for hours.

Amount Protein Content Calories
1 medium egg 6.5g 189

3. Lean meat

If red meat is your preferred source of protein, choose the leanest cuts to reduce the added fat. Lean options such as steaks and extra lean ground beef may cost a little more but the benefits are priceless.

Amount Protein Content Calories
210g 66.2g 372

 

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet recommends 175 grams of lean meat a day. Following this diet can lower your blood pressure by 8.9/4.5 mmHg, reducing your risk of heart disease by 15 %and your stroke risk by 27 %.
4. Nuts and legumes (Soak Prior to Cooking & Eating)

Legumes can be considered the perfect food. They contain more protein than any other plant food, are high in complex carbs and low in fat. A cup of cooked lentils will provide nearly 18 grams of protein, comparable to a serving of T-bone steak.

Nuts are a great source of protein and good fats (mono and polyunsaturated). They are also a slow-burning food, leaving you feeling full longer. Studies have shown that nuts can even help people lose weight.

Amount Protein Content Calories
Almonds raw 1.2g 0.2g 7
Lentils 198g 13.5g 152

 

5. Poultry (Free Range & Hormone Free)

Chicken and Turkey are a great sources of protein and low in saturated fat, especially if you choose skinless white meat. A 3-½ oz piece chicken breast will provide you 21 grams of protein. In addition to protein, poultry provides good amounts of B vitamins and zinc. Turkey even provides other nutrients that are being studies for their connection to alleviating depression.

Amount Protein Content Calories
140g (chicken) 43.4g 231

 

6. Low-fat dairy (Biodynamic & Organic)

Dairy is not just important for bone health. The protein in low-fat dairy products, such as Biodynamic yogurt and milk (available at health food stores), also helps to maintain healthy blood pressure.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand recommends adults have 2-3 servings of milk and alternatives every day. Two cups of Biodynamic milk each day will not only boost your protein intake, but will also provide adequate vitamin D.

Amount Protein Content Calories
Yogurt Natural Plain 200g Tub 12g 176

 

How to Get Your Fitness Back After Pregnancy

post-pregnancy-belly
Many women understandably worry about getting their body back into tip-top shape after having giving birth to a new-born baby. However, when you combine this with the pressures and stresses that come with being a mum, it can become particularly challenging to get that pre-baby body back. It’s important to remember that getting back into shape isn’t something you can rush. Remember, it’s taken about 40 weeks for you to gain the extra body fat that comes with pregnancy and your body has done the amazing job of growing your baby and bringing it into the world, so naturally you need some to recover.

Before you get back into the swing of exercise again, it is important to get the okay from your doctor and the time that you need to wait before starting again can vary between 6 to 12 weeks. This largely depends on whether you have had a natural birth or caesarean. With a new baby to look after, finding the time to do a few sets in the gym can be tough, but not impossible, as long as you are prepared to make it a priority and remember to follow a healthy eating plan. These will also be hugely beneficial as your baby grows up with the same habits
from an early stage in their life.

The specific focus for new mums should be to strengthen and tighten the muscles that have been stretched out during their pregnancy and childbirth. These are the muscles in the abdominals and pelvic floor. It’s usually best to start easy and gradually increase the intensity
as you go along. Try starting out with some gentle tightening exercises for these areas simply by sucking in and contracting the muscles, while keeping a deep, breathing rhythm going throughout the contraction. You must ensure that you avoid any kind of crunch exercise for the first 6 weeks whilst the muscles repair and focus more on these stabilising exercises. When you strengthen your pelvic floor, you will help to prevent any urine leaks while you’re
exercising.

Each day, make a goal to try and complete a short walk, it can be a good opportunity to help introduce your baby to the world via a stroller. Walking will increase your circulation and give your body another type of gentle workout, similar to the stabilising pelvic floor and abdominal exercises mentioned earlier. Being out and about with your baby can improve your mood as well as your fitness. Two birds, one stone. Have a go at starting off with short 10 to 15 minute
walks, then attempt to build up to about an hour of walking at a steady, consistent pace. If you can do this at least four days a week, you will be well on your way to that amazing pre-baby body.

Focus on swinging your arms and legs in a more exaggerated way than you usually would, it will make your heart beat faster. Try to push yourself to get a little out of breath, but not losing so much so that you can’t hold a conversation. See if you can find a local new mums
group or grab a friend to walk with – this will help to stay accountable to your exercise program and keep the routine from getting to monotonous.

Remember, that if you’re breastfeeding, always exercise after feeding your baby or express before you exercise. Exercising with full breasts can be quite uncomfortable. It can be a great idea to wear a sports bra over your maternity bra for extra support. New mum’s who are breast feeding should realise that performing high intensity exercise can cause a lactic acid build in the body, which ultimately alter the taste of the breast milk and therefore receptivity of the baby. You can relax, no harm will be caused to the baby though and is it advised to stay with a low to moderate level of exercise intensity. In summary, below the anaerobic threshold, as this will not have any impact on taste or receptivity of breast milk to the baby.

How the People Around You can Influence your Health

couple1

How many times have you said to yourself; ‘I am going to start eating better and not eat sweet foods after dinner’ I’ve said that exact quote to myself countless times. Then you get home after a long day, eat your dinner and meander off to the couch to watch your favourite TV show. You’re proud that you have used some Mr Miyagi-like discipline and not had dessert. Moments later however, your partner plonks themselves down next to you with a bowl of your favourite sweet un healthy food. At that point your mental resolve is put to the test. Unless you are extremely determined to reach your goal and / or amazing will power, the chances of you not tucking into those sweets is very low. This is only amplified when your partner encourages you to join them in eating that food. This has happened to me countless times.

Often people ask me ‘Why would someone’s partner actually encourage them to eat poorly, knowing they are attempting to lead a healthy lifestyle?’. My response to that usually startles them. I believe that it comes down to the emotions – love, fear or guilt. When one half of a relationship attempts to improve a part of their life, unfortunately many times the other half of the relationship will attempt to sabotage their efforts in fear of losing them, especially if they are not on a similar road to self improvement. Unfortunately this is often the case.

Believe it or not, this fear is driven by love; that is the fear of losing their love if their partner develops into a person that may either attract or be attracted to a more positive person. This can be terrifying for people. Some other people attempt to sabotage their partner’s efforts to help themselves feel better. Saying things like ‘Come on have some with me’ only serves to make them feel better about eating something that they know is wrong.

Situations like those described above are quite a challenge for someone to confront. What if you trained like a crazed banshee for an hour a day, six days a week. That’s awesome, well done. However, this still only represents less than 4% of your life. The general consensus is that your ability to lose weight is 70% related to eating, which leaves just 30% related to exercise. It’s really what you do away from the gym that will get you the results of your dreams. Therefore, you need to ensure that you not only understand what to eat and how to maximise your recovery, but most importantly understand what influences you to eat certain foods and exercise.

Research on this topic has found that for many people, their poor food habits are largely influenced by the food choices of the people around them. This supports the theory that we are all a product of the people that we spend the most time with. These people are commonly known as your ‘Circle of Influence’.

It’s clear that on the TV show ‘The Biggest Loser,’ one’s ‘Circle of Influence’ has an enormous impact on the results the contestants achieve. Prior to entering the house, each contestant’s circle of influence obviously negatively impacted their ability to eat the rights foods and frequently exercise. However, when they enter the house, their circle of influence improves dramatically. Not only are they encouraged by people with similar goals to eat well and exercise, they had fantastic Trainers providing them with the education and accountability to succeed. Unfortunately, when they return to their normal everyday lives they return to their more negative circle of influence and often they end up going backwards on their journey and
pile the pounds back on. This highlights the importance of ensuring that people who wish to lead a healthy lifestyle are encouraged and supported throughout their journey by those closest to them.

Therefore, to improve your circle of influence, seek out positive people who are on a similar journey to you. Hire a personal trainer, join a sporting club, make an effort to spend time with people you know who are going through a similar journey to you and include those around you in your journey as well. You might be surprised at how much your loved ones will enjoy going on this journey with you and you may even be able to influence them to change their lives for the better.

Being a runaway bay personal trainer, I often see some of my clients struggle to achieve their goals until their partner starts training and eating well with them. Many of my clients who have their partner cook for them, struggle to achieve their goals if their partner is not prepared to serve healthy foods. After all, having to prepare 2 different meals (or more if you have kids) is a waste of time! However, once their partner starts training and is motivated to eat well, they never have to prepare multiple meals again, as they are now only preparing healthy ones.

This seems like a great segway to a massive problem, childhood obesity. I believe the best way to combat this epidemic is to educate and influence the parents all over the world. There’s something great that happens when parents are educated about healthy food habits. I
have personally seen children turn their young lives around for the better as a direct result of their parent’s new found attitude to healthy living. Unfortunately, I have seen unhealthy parents actually take away a child’s opportunity to exercise as a means of punishment if they do wrong. This once again highlights the impact of one’s circle of influence.

In summary, I would encourage you to share your goals with your family and friends. That is, make your goals public so that those people around you understand and support what you are trying to achieve. They will help keep you accountable to doing the little things even when
you don’t feel like them. Consider who you are with and / or influencing you during your ‘danger times’ when you tend to eat the wrong foods.

Everyone has certain times when they are prone to making poor food choices. Even if those people are not interested in exercise they should be encouraged to learn about healthy eating habits and hopefully the extra education will rub off on everyone around them. As
the old saying goes; ‘’It’s hard to soar like an eagle if your surrounded by turkeys.’’