What is protein for?
Protein is essential for growth and repair of the human body. All our organs, muscles, hormones and body tissues are made from proteins. That includes skin, organs, muscles, hair and nails. Protein also helps to regulate our metabolism, balance our hormones and produce antibodies. You can see why it’s so important to eat enough protein, our bodies can’t function properly without it.
Protein also helps to manage and lose weight and body fat. Protein supports and promotes lean muscle growth, which will in turn raise your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories). It also helps stabilise blood sugar levels which improves our energy levels and limits mid day energy lulls. That in turn means we can focus properly (perform better at work and school) and also reduce afternoon snacking to stop us overeating.
A lack of protein in the diet can lead to increased loss of muscle mass, difficulty recovering from injuries, slower metabolism and a lower immune system.
When you really understand what protein does in the body, it’s easy to see why it’s essential to consume enough.
Why is it important to eat protein if you exercise regularly?
During training your muscles break down and then grow back stronger. That’s the point of exercise and how we improve performance. Eating protein after training provides fuel for the muscles – this helps us to recover, get stronger and fitter.
How much should I eat?
General nutrition recommendations by the government are given for sedentary adults to prevent malnutrition. However, if you are regularly active you need to eat more than this to sustain a healthy body and support your training.
Healthy adults should aim to eat a portion of protein with every meal. For example, eggs at breakfast and meat or fish with lunch and dinner. This is especially important if you are active and train regularly.
What about vegetarian/vegan options?
There are many sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Although plant proteins are usually “incomplete” proteins (i.e. they do not contain all the necessary nutrients), vegetarians and vegans can ensure they get all the essential nutrients by combining different sources of protein.
Good sources of plant proteins:
Pulses (e.g. pinto beans, black beans, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas etc)
Plant protein powders (we recommend VivoLife)
What would an ideal day of food look like for an active 9-10st female?
2 eggs & 2 slices smoked salmon / 2 egg omlette with veggies
Grilled chicken breast with salad
Greek natural yoghurt
Carrot sticks with 1 tbsp high quality peanut butter
Salmon fillet with vegetables
If you work out, you should try to either eat your next meal / snack within 60 minutes of finishing your session OR take a good quality protein shake or supplement after you finish your workout.
Getting enough protein in your diet is essential, at every age. This is particularly important if you are active. Protein supports the growth and repair of all our body tissues. Try to get a portion of protein at every meal.