Protein is found in every cell in our body. It is essential for cellular function, repair, mood balance, immune function, blood sugar regulation and muscle building. So how do you know if you are getting enough protein?
It may be a surprise that most people are not consuming adequate amounts of protein to achieve all of the functions that it is necessary for.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which have thousands of functions throughout the body. Signs of protein deficiency can include depression, anxiety, poor sleep, weak nails and hair and weight gain.
So where do we get protein from? Most people know that eggs, dairy and animal meat are good sources – including beef, lamb, chicken, turkey and fish, but the vegetarian proteins are also essential in building a protein rich diet.
Great sources of vegetarian protein include:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Legumes – Lentils, Chickpeas, Beans, Tofu
These non meat protein sources also have other benefits, being high in fibre and minerals. For adequate protein levels you should consume protein with every meal. A good example of this would be oats (wholegrain) with LSA (nuts and seeds) for breakfast, a salad with 2 boiled eggs for lunch, and fish/meat and vegetables for dinner.
To ensure that you eat good levels of all of the amino acids it works best to eat a diet including all of the protein sources mentioned above. This is especially important for vegetarians, as vegetarian protein sources are missing certain amino acids. It is important to eat a variety of nuts and seeds, legumes and wholegrains to meet you protein requirements.
As a general rule, your serve of protein should be about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. In the average sized person this equates to roughly a 180g piece of meat or fish, 2 eggs, a handful of nuts and seeds or 1/2 cup lentils.Protein rich snacks include raw almonds, brazil nuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds, sardines on corn thins, hommus and celery sticks and plain organic yoghurt (Jalna is good).