How much protein do you really need

How much protein do you really need

High protein diet, low carbohydrate-high protein etc seems to be the current buzzword these days. The question remains though how much protein do we really need – a lot depends on our digestive system. A protein-heavy meal is difficult to break down and digest – leading to cases of high acidity. Additionally, if we lead a sedentary lifestyle, the actual body requirement for protein may not be much.

However, the most important factor, is protein quality determined by its essential amino acid composition and the digestibility and bio-availability of its amino acids.

The amount of protein required is often estimated based on body weight, as a percentage of total caloric intake (10-35%), or based on age alone. 0.8g/kg of body weight is a commonly cited recommended dietary allowance. This value is the minimum recommended value to maintain basic nutritional requirements, but consuming more protein, up to a certain point, may be beneficial, depending on the sources of the protein for people who are highly active, or who wish to build more muscle should generally consume more protein. The amount of protein a person should consume, to date, is not an exact science, and each individual should consult a specialist, be it a dietitian, doctor, or personal trainer, to help determine their individual needs.

Choose lean, tender meat
Meat, poultry and seafood are easy to digest if you choose tender, whole cuts or ground meat and avoid tough, gristly portions. Prepare each by roasting, poaching or braising until the meat is soft and well-done.

Have dairy in moderation
Milk, soft or hard cheeses, yogurt and other milk-based products such as ice cream or pudding are easily digestible. Limit your intake to two servings each day; one serving is equivalent to 1 cup of yogurt or milk or 1 ounce of cheese. Choose low- or nonfat dairy products over full-fat ones to keep your fat intake low. If you’re a vegan, a strict vegetarian or lactose-intolerant, you can substitute plant milks, lactose-reduced milk or supplement with lactase enzymes.

Enjoy Eggs
All types of cooked eggs, including hard- or soft-boiled, scrambled, poached or fried, are acceptable for people limited to easy-to-digest foods. One whole egg counts as one protein serving and is equivalent to 1 ounce of cooked meat, seafood or poultry.

Pick Plant Proteins Carefully
Avoid all dried beans and legumes, nuts, seeds and high-protein whole grains such as quinoa while you’re following a low-fiber diet. Choose almonds, chia seeds and lentils in limited quantities through out the day.

Also consider pumpkin seeds – they contain a wide variety of antioxidant phytonutrients, including the phenolic acids hydroxybenzoic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, vanillic and syringic acid; and the lignans pinoresinol, medioresinol and lariciresinol. Pumpkins seeds also contain health-supportive phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, sitostanol and avenasterol. Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and copper. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc and iron. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein.

To summarise – plan your protein intake according to your activity level, lifestyle and food habits and quality of protein intake.

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