Sabine Gransden who is a Registered Nutritionist, provides some expert commentry on why protein is so important for a healthy lifestyle.
How important is protein for our health?
After water, protein is the most abundant component of our body. Our body needs protein to stay healthy and it is critical for everything from our organs, muscles, tissues, bones to our skin and hair.
Proteins also function as enzymes, hormones and important parts of cells, such as our genes. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids.
And to make it a bit more specific, our body breaks down about half a kg of your total protein into amino acids and rebuilds them into new proteins, all in a single day!
How much protein do we need on a daily basis?
You can calculate your recommended daily protein intake by multiplying 0.8g by your weight in kg or 0.36g by your weight in pounds.
So as an example, a woman weighing 65kg, requires 52g of protein in a day as a minimum.
If you are overweight, the above calculations might not be accurate and it is best to consult with a nutritionist who can help you figure out how much protein you should ideally have on a daily basis.
Which foods are high in protein?
- Animal sources: beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy, whey and Protein Rebel has incorporated cricket flour into one of their protein powders which is high in protein and environmental friendly.
- Plant sources: beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, quinoa, oats, chia seeds, shelled hemp seeds, tofu, tempeh (grains contain protein, but smaller amounts).
Examples of protein content of different foods:
|Food item||Protein content|
|Chicken breast, 100g||30g|
|Steak, lean, 108g||30g|
|1 serving of Protein Rebel ‘Reload’||22g|
|1 serving of Protein Rebel ‘Replace’ (vegan)||22g|
|1 serving of Protein Rebel ‘Recover’ (vegan)||20g|
|Tuna, 100g (canned in water)||15g|
|Turkey meatballs, 6||15g|
|Quinoa, ½ cup||12g|
|Pumpkin seeds, 4 tbsp||10g|
|Oats, ½ cup||10g|
|1 egg, fried||6.3g|
|Almonds, ¼ cup||5g|
|Hummus, 2 heaped tbsp||5g|
|Handful of lentils||4.5g|
|Peas, frozen, boiled, drained, ½ cup||4.1g|
|Slice of white bread||1.9g|
What to consider in terms of protein when you are vegan or want to start following a more plant based diet
It is possible to get all the protein your body needs from a vegan diet, however, your needs for protein as a vegan are slightly higher compared to an omnivore, as the proteins from plant foods don’t seem to be as well digested as those from animal foods. It is important that you eat a variety of whole plant foods including at least 3 servings per day of legumes (lentils, beans, peanuts, peas, tofu or tempeh). A bit of a word of warning here though, if your body is not used to eating a lot of legumes, start by introducing them slowly, as they can potentially cause digestive issues such as bloating to start with. This will reduce as soon as your body gets used to them. Or throw in a serving of Protein Rebel’s vegan protein powder to top up your daily protein intake.
Animal sources of protein, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, whey protein and dairy are what we call ‘complete proteins’ as they contain all the essential amino acids (essential, because your body can’t produce them, you have to ingest them on a daily basis). Plant sources of protein such as legumes and grains often lack some of the amino acids, but become complete when you combine them, for example when eating brown rice together with lentils.
What does the body use protein for?
Protein is necessary for the structure of almost every molecule in the body, particularly many hormones, neurotransmitters and all enzymes.
It is needed for
- Processes that fuel your energy
- Procedures that carry oxygen throughout your body in your blood
- Support muscle contraction and movement
- Hormones are made of protein, which help coordinate many bodily functions
- Detoxification – for your liver to detoxify all the toxins that we are exposed to, it needs protein
- Digestive enzymes – protein is very important for the overall digestive processes
- Blood sugar control – it keeps you fuller for longer, so you are likely to consume less calories overall and have less cravings! So in effect, it can help with weight control.
- Immune system – most immune players are made of protein
- Support the regulation and expression of your DNA
I would recommend to make sure that protein is part of every meal you eat.
Here are some examples of breakfasts and lunches with a low protein content vs a higher protein content:
|Low in protein||Higher in protein|
|Cereals such as corn flakes or puffed rice||Porridge with added nuts, seeds and berries|
|Jam on toast||Green smoothie with a serving of Protein Rebel powder|
|Muffin or croissant||Omelette with spring onion, mushrooms and tomatoes|
|Low in protein||Higher in protein|
|Bowl of white pasta (a better option would be lentil pasta) with creamy tomato sauce||Chicken, bacon (nitrate free version), avocado, sundried tomatoes salad|
|Jacket potato with cheese and beans||Salad wraps with chili made from ground turkey, with soured cream and salsa|
|Pizza||Wild salmon fillet with a side salad|
When might someone need a bit of additional protein?
- Intense strength and endurance training
- Pregnant women/ lactating mothers
- Men and women over 50
Can you eat too much protein?
Yes there is such a thing. Since the body does not need or use excess protein, it can become a burden for the kidney and liver, as both those organs are responsible for waste removal in the body. In case you had or have kidney disease, I would recommend to consult with a nutritionist to make sure your protein intake is adequate.
And whilst protein can help build muscle, if you eat too much of it, your body may store the excess as fat.
Also, be mindful of what kind of diet trend you follow. Concentrating mainly on protein and fat can potentially keep you from getting all the nutrients your body needs and you could develop symptoms such as tiredness, headaches, digestive issues and frequent colds for example. It is best to work with a nutritionist who can come up with a bespoke programme for you to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs to be as healthy as possible and to function at an optimum level.
Last, but certainly not least – protein sustainability
The source of protein we choose and overall, the food choices we make do not only affect our health, but also our environment. Generally, and especially if you choose non-organic meat, animal based proteins tend to have a greater environmental influence compared to plant sources of protein. Whilst it is not essential to fully avoid animal sources, changing dietary habits to include more plant based foods can certainly benefit our health and the planet. And being aware of this can help make informed choices in life. This is another reason why I am a fan of Protein Rebel as their company ethos is focused a lot around how they can contribute to protecting our planet.
If you have any questions about protein and your health, or any other health concerns, get in touch and book a FREE 30 minute breakthrough call with me HERE. I am looking forward to speaking with you!
With best wishes from the heart,
Sabine Gransden Health Coaching
Registered Nutritionist | DipION, mBANT, CNHC