Along with fats and carbohydrates, protein is a key macronutrient important for numerous functions in the body such as repairing and building our body’s tissues. However, unlike fats and carbohydrates the body does not store protein, and therefore has no pool to draw on when it needs a supply. Protein is also used to make enzymes, hormones, along with the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. If you need to supplement protein to reach your goals that’s perfectly fine, however you can get your protein requirements from whole foods.
Why Should You Include Protein In Your Meals & Snacks?
It’s crucial to include protein in your meals and more particularly your snacks to keep you satiated between meals. Many snacks foods are high in refined in carbs and sugar which can leave you feeling unsatisfied and craving more food. Protein promotes fullness because it signals the release of appetite supressing hormones, slows digestion, and stabilizes your blood sugar levels (Elliott, 2020).
Sources of Protein
Legumes: lentils, beans (adzuki, black, fava, chickpeas/garbanzo, kidney, lima, mung, pinto etc.), peas (green, snow, snap, split, etc.), edamame/soybeans (and products made from soy: tofu, tempeh, etc.), peanuts.
Nuts and Seeds: almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, squash and pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds.
Whole Grains: wheat, quinoa, rice, wild rice, millet, oats, buckwheat.
Other: broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, artichokes.
Poultry: chicken, turkey, duck, eggs
Seafood: salmon, tuna, shrimp, halibut, haddock, scallops, yellow tail
Dairy: yogurt, milk, cheese
Should You Go On A High Protein Diet?
High protein diets are thought to lead to weight loss because when people eat protein (and few carbohydrates) their metabolism changes into a state called ketosis. Ketosis is when the body converts from burning carbs for fuel to burning its own fat; small bits of carbon called ketones are released into the bloodstream as a source of energy. Diets such as Atkins or Keto may display short term benefits negating the long term consequences.
Some of the risks include:
The body produces ammonia when it breaks down protein and the long-term risks of high levels of ammonia in the body are still unknown.
There is evidence to suggest people who eat high-protein diets excrete excess calcium in their urine, this in the long run can lead to osteoporosis.
Those on a high protein diet are more likely to shun carbohydrates which include fruits and vegetable all which are excellent sources of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
Animal foods (high in protein) are also high in saturated fats which increasing the changes for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
Protein is a very important macronutrient for our body and well-being, but like all macro and micro nutrients everything in moderation is key. Eliminating any food group puts your body at risk for a number of nutritional deficiencies which is why you should include all foods in your diet.
Elliott, B. (2020, April 02). 30 High Protein Snacks That Are Healthy and Portable. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-high-protein-snacks
Osterweil, N. (n.d.). The Benefits of Protein. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/men/features/benefits-protein