Protein is an essential nutrient used in every cell of our bodies. Protein makes up the structure of the cells, organs, and muscles in our bodies.
Proteins are known as the building blocks of the body and can be used to make hormones, co-enzymes, blood cells, and even DNA.
Proteins are long chains of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds.
These twenty different amino acids are each unique and perform a specific purpose in the body. Out of the twenty amino acids the body can only produce fourteen on its own.
Protein-containing structures are constantly being broken down and replaced. It is important to eat an adequate amount of protein daily to replace what the body uses up.
Severe protein deficiency, called Kwashiorkor, is rare in developed countries like the United States and can results in severe edema especially on the legs and stomach. Mild to moderate protein deficiency can cause a slow metabolism, weak muscles, thinning muscles and diabetes.
The benefits of consuming plenty of high protein foods include:
- Improve muscle tone
- Balanced blood sugar
- Healthy immune function
- Improved wound healing
- Steady energy levels
Protein needs can vary greatly by age, weight, physical activity, and medical conditions.
Generally, to maintain muscle mass and replace lost protein, the RDA for those of an average body weight is 56g/day for men and 46 g/day for women and the Daily Value is 50g.
But more ideally, take your body weight multiply that by .5 and consume that in grams of protein daily.
Top 10 High Protein Foods List
1) Grass-fed Beef
3 oz: 23 g (46% DV)
2) Organic Chicken
3 oz: 19 g (38% DV)
3) Wild Fish
3 oz: 20 g (40% DV)
4) Free-Range Eggs
1 large: 7g (14% DV)
5) Raw Milk
1 cup: 8g (16% DV)
1 cup: 18g (36% DV)
1 cup: 17g (34% DV)
8) Raw cheese
1 oz: 7g (14% DV)
9) Kefir or Yogurt
6 oz: 8g (16%DV)
1 oz: 6g (12% DV)
Top Health Benefits of Protein
Muscles are made up of protein therefore protein is necessary to build and maintain muscle. Without adequate protein muscle wasting occurs. Tissues that are damaged (from heavy resistance training) do need some extra protein to help repair the damage.
It is best to give your body small amounts of protein throughout the day so that it can have the protein available when it’s necessary. Your body cannot store protein, so it will only use what is needed a little at a time.
Weight Management and Satiety
Research studies have conflicting results regarding high protein versus low protein diets for ideal weight loss. In a recent study, 24 overweight women found that those who consumed a higher protein diet lost more weight than those who followed a high carbohydrate diet even when calories were kept the same.
Protein has been shown to increase satiety (or fullness) during meals causing people to eat less overall. If you are eating just until you are satisfied, and not stuffed (easy to do with refined carbohydrates), you will eat as much as your body needs allowing you to easily maintain you weight.
Blood Sugar Control
A high protein diet can help prevent spikes in blood glucose, especially for those with type 2 diabetes. This may be because protein cannot be converted into carbohydrates and is usually not used for energy in the same way as carbohydrates or fat.
Eating high-protein foods at every meal, even with carbohydrates can help stabilize blood glucose levels and hunger throughout the day.