Our body uses protein to build the muscles and organs, deliver oxygen to the cells, and keep the immune system working. Most people should get at least 10-15% of their daily calories from protein. Women need at least 50 g (1,800 calories a day) of protein daily, and men need about 60 g (based on 2,000 calories a day) of protein a day (approximately 0.6-0.8 g/kg/day). The requirement is more during pregnancy and lactation.
Western countries typically consume a high-protein diet. However, scientific studies have reported that consuming too much protein causes more harm than good. It may cause increased bloating, poor digestion, and constipation and even exert strain on the kidneys.
Some weight loss programs that include a high-protein diet are controversial because they offer quick results; however, in the long-term, they can be harmful.
Several athletes and bodybuilders believe that a high-protein diet is important to increase physical performance. However, a high-protein diet just before a performance may cause reduced ability to run marathons or lift weights. This is because proteins are typically difficult to digest and may not break down to produce sufficient energy during the actual performance.
Additionally, there are other side effects of extra protein that may depend on the type of protein you are consuming—whether animal or plant-based protein such as beans, meat, nuts, grains, cheese, or soy. Red meats are linked to certain cancers, soya protein has been linked to poor thyroid function, and so on.
Because of the lack of data, researchers have concluded that a maximum intake level for protein cannot be determined for a healthy adult population. However, because of possible side effects, you should not consume protein far above the recommended levels. Before starting any high-protein diet program, you should consider the benefits and risks of this diet.
What is protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that is essential for building your muscles. It is one of the complex groups of molecules that help in your body functions. It makes your hair, nails, bones, and muscles strong and provides shapes. It is one of the building blocks that shape your body.
What does protein do to your body?
Protein is essential to derive bodily functions. It is involved in many tasks such as:
- Although carbohydrates and fats provide energy to perform stressful activity when the body has fewer calories, proteins provide energy in absence of the availability of fats and carbs.
- Proteins prevent you from losing muscle mass and keep up the body size and shape of your muscles. Protein is the key nutrient that helps you build more muscles.
- Many studies have reported that the right amount of protein may improve your bone strength and help hold on to your bone density. Ultimately, it lowers your risk of osteoporosis (bone loss).
- Proteins contain amino acids that help boost your immunity. It helps lymphocytes (white blood cells) and antibodies fight against the foreign antibody or infection.
- Proteins cut constant food cravings triggered by your midbrain. Research shows that getting more protein may help control unhealthy late-night cravings.
- A high-protein diet may boost your metabolism. It burns calories even at rest.
- A plant-based protein diet may help lower your blood pressure. It lowers low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) levels in your body and lowers your risk of heart diseases.
- Protein fastens the wound repair process by reducing inflammation and creating new tissues at the site of the injury.
- Proteins carry vitamins, minerals, sugars, cholesterol, and oxygen through them and into the cells and tissues. Some proteins even store certain essential nutrients such as iron as a backup supply whenever your body needs it.
What are the sources of protein?
You can get protein in lots of different forms either from animal food or plant-based food items. There are cheap and healthy sources of proteins available. Consume the following protein-rich foods throughout the day:
- Sardines (20 g per 1/3 cup)
- Quinoa (3.5 ounces/100 g)
- Cottage cheese (24 g per cup)
- Lentils (16 g per cup)
- Oats (5 g per cup)
- Ground turkey (23 ounces of protein in 3-ounces serving)
- Peanuts (8 g in 1 ounce)
- Tempeh (33.7 g per cup)
- Chicken breast (27 g per 4-ounces serving)
- Canned tuna (20 g per can)
- Eggs (6 g per egg)
- Sugar snap peas (5 g per cup)
- Potatoes (8 g per cup)
- Broccoli rabe (3 g per serving)
- White mushrooms (3.5 g per cup)
- Corn (4 g per piece)
- Artichoke (3.5 g)
- Brussels sprouts (2 g per 0.5 cup)
- Black beans (7 g per 0.5 cup)
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