Well, over the past month, my dad, younger brother, DH and I have been affected by varied strains of viral infection, so one of the observations as we are returning to our regular active routine was the weakness and lethargy that remained even after the symptoms faded. That led to a discussion on nutrition, specifically our daily intake of protein.
Most of us know that protein is one of the basic building blocks of the body and is essential for muscle growth and repair. Protein is required for every vital body function...repair and maintenance of all organs and connective tissue (bones, ligaments, cartilage, muscles etc.) skin, hair and even genes. And if the body does not get enough protein, it starts breaking down muscle to get its needs within a day or two...this is scary stuff, as I am pretty confident your everyday activity involves a lot more than just vegging on the couch.
We all take some form of protein in our diets every day. But as we engage in more cardiovascular activity, we focus on loading ourselves up with carbs. As for protein, a smear of peanut butter, a glass of milk, an omelet...and we believe we have enough protein to keep our bodies running (pun intended).
So, the question is, are we taking enough protein to cover the body's needs?
How to calculate your protein needs:
Weight in kilograms multiplied by (0.8 - 1.8)
Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and> 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.
It is well-known that only animal protein has all the essential amino acids the body needs. But the downside is the high fat content and associated risks of heart and other diseases.
Plant (vegetable) protein is incomplete and lacks certain essential amino acids. It is also more difficult to digest and absorb. According to this article, with vegeterian diet, to achieve a balanced amino acids intake, a variety of plant protein sources need to be complemented with each other in the diet.
Monitor your average protein intake over a day or two. You will notice that unless you are diligent about it, you could be severely shortchanging yourself.
I eat meat, but am not a regular meat eater. Also, I prefer natural food sources to artificial supplements. I eat chicken once or twice a week, fish, steak and pork a couple of times a month (if that). My major sources of protein then are milk, yoghurt, eggs, peanut butter and lentils (which, in order to get the quantity of protein I need, I should be eating tons of). I also get a few grams from oats and whole wheat sources, but definitely not as much as what I should be consuming. Even if you are counting the protein you consume everyday from different sources, is the protein content in the said sources accurate considering that nutrition charts only indicate the protein content in a particular source, and not the amount that is actually absorbed by the body? While I do not believe that high-protein diets are the answer, I have decided to add to my diet more egg whites, milk and canned lite tuna (in water), in addition to vegetable sources.Here are a couple of articles that list the quantities of protein in various food sources. Note that large quantities of each source (plant sources, in particular) only yield a small amount of digestible, absorbable protein.
How do you get your daily requirement of protein? What are your preferred sources of protein?