Why protein is important and how to make sure you’re getting enough

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It can sometimes be thought that athletes and gym junkies are the only ones who need to make sure they are having enough protein, but that is a misconception.

Protein is an important macromolecule that is made of ‘building blocks’ called amino acids and these are needed for everyone as they are used in bodily repair, growth, development and muscle protein synthesis.

Some other specific protein functions include usage in chemical reactions in the body, carrying substances in the blood and effecting muscle contractions.

It is recommended that individuals have at least 0.8 grams of protein per their body weight in kilograms per day to meet the minimum amino acid requirement and to ensure muscle is not lost.

This is simpler than it sounds. For example, a 70kg person needs at least (0.8 x 70) of protein per day = 56 grams of protein per day.

If you are an active person, then it is recommended to have 1.6 grams of protein per your body weight in kilograms per day as often muscle can be lost when you’re active and not eating enough protein.

Protein can come in many foods, such as chicken, tuna, beef, legumes/beans, Greek yoghurt, tofu, nuts and seeds. Try and aim to have at least 20-30 grams of protein per meal. This could be a 95 gram can of tuna, which contains 25 grams of protein OR a 90 gram cooked piece of chicken breast with half a plate of non-starchy vegetables and a quarter cup of brown rice, which contains 25 grams of protein as well.

It has been shown that consuming 25-30 grams of protein per meal can help slow muscle loss in those who are ageing, reducing the likelihood of falls.

Be conscious of your protein intake, even if you are vegetarian, ensure you are eating enough protein.

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