The body needs protein to function normally, but what does protein really do? Proteins are made up of smaller components called amino acids which help the body fight infections, build and contract muscle so we can get in a great workout and digest food, among other things.
How much protein do I need? It depends. The below chart gives you an estimate for someone on a weight-loss and exercise plan.
You can also use the below equation to calculate your needs:
(Total Daily Calories x 0.2)/4 = grams of protein per day
Where should I get my protein from? It isn’t easy for everyone to consume their recommended amount of protein each day, but it’s super important.
- Complete Protein vs. Incomplete Protein: All proteins are made up of amino acids, some of which are considered “essential”. Complete proteins contain all essential amino acids while incomplete proteins contain only some. The good thing to know is that you don’t have to consume all essential amino acids at the same time in order to retain the benefits, so it is okay to consume a mix of complete and incomplete proteins.
- Whey Protein: This is a complete protein derived from animals (milk) that’s been around for years as a popular supplement (you’ve probably seen it in many protein powders). You might not know that digesting animal-based proteins increases the amount of acid we have in our body, which means our body has to work harder to keep pH levels normal.
- Soy Protein: Also a complete protein, but derived from soybeans, which makes it vegan. Soy protein has risen in popularity because people with milk allergies couldn’t tolerate milk protein. But, research has shown that when soy interacts with some medications, it can increase stress on the kidneys. Additionally, there are concerns about production methods in the soy industry due to widespread usage of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).
- Pea Protein: A vegan, incomplete protein derived from the yellow pea. It has been found to provide the same benefits as animal-based proteins, such as increased muscle mass and improved feelings of fullness, but without stressing the body’s acid-base balance or taxing the kidneys. Plus, with pea protein, you are adding more plants to your diet! Zumba Shake Shake Shake™ is a great source of pea protein, and the delicious powder is also made with brown rice protein. The combination of ingredients makes it a complete protein, delivering 16 grams of the good stuff per serving.
Now that you know a bit more about protein, tell us how you plan on incorporating more to your daily diet!
Anastasia Conover graduated from West Chester University with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She continued her education receiving a Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Now she teaches nutrition classes, does nutrition counseling, and develops healthy recipes and diets to help people reach their health and wellness goals. She also devotes her time to community outreach focusing on kidney disease education.