Last week I was in sunny San Diego attending the Experimental Biology (EB) Conference. It was my first time at EB and in San Diego. Both were excellent experiences. Protein was a hot topic at EB. For this blog, I’m sharing with you a few health facts about protein and why we need high quality protein throughout the day.

Why we need protein

Protein (along with carbs and fat) is an essential macronutrient we need to get from our diet. It is responsible for the formation and maintenance of our body including bone health and muscle tissues. It can also serve as a fuel source (1). We get protein (4 kcal per gram) from meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, certain grains, nuts, seeds, lentils and legumes. Protein needs are calculated in grams and are based on your weight, health and activity level. The average, healthy weight, moderately active adult requires approximately 75 to 100 grams of protein each day to have sufficient effects on bone health, body equilibrium, and to influence satiety (1).

Protein and Health

Pork Taco

Have you heard of the term – complete proteins? Complete proteins supply the body with every amino acid, including those known as essential – that the body is unable to produce on its own. We get protein from animal and some plant (quinoa and hempseeds are two great options with all the essential amino acids) sources. Most plant sources are termed incomplete proteins, which signify that they must be eaten with other incomplete protein sources to get the necessary benefit. The hot protein topics at EB were protein, satiety and weight management; protein and athletic performance/recovery and an emerging research area was dietary protein and its role in organ function. I’m focusing on protein and weight management for this blog.


Protein and Weight Management

Increased satiety (feeling full) through eating protein has the ability to influence total energy consumption due to its difference in metabolism (when compared to its carbohydrate and fat counterparts). Protein at each meal (25 to 30 grams at breakfast, lunch and supper) may provide satiety and in the long-term, weight management (2). Protein consumption can influence thermogenesis. Higher protein is directly related to higher thermogenesis (3). This metabolic response along with lower total caloric intake (due to the satiety factor) can have a positive effect on weight management.


My Final Tips & Recipe

I recommend spreading your protein intake throughout the day. Here are my suggestions – add Greek yogurt and hemp protein powder to breakfast and try this turkey and quinoa salad recipe from the Foodnetwork.com for lunch, so you’re not overloading on protein at supper!

 

References:

  1. Moughan P J. Dietary protein for human health. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012; 108(S2):S1-S2.
  2. Larsen T M. et al. Diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index for weight-loss maintenance. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010; 363(22):2102-2113.
  3. Westerterp-Plantenga M S, Lemmens S G, Westerterp K R. Dietary protein–its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012; 108(S2):S105-S112.