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Protein: The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth!

Proteins: Why do you need them?

Proteins are made up of amino acids and are considered to be the 'building blocks' for the many cellular functions of your body. There are 22 amino acids required by your body to maintain good health; 14 of these are produced by your body (these are classified as non-essential), and the other 8 must be consumed through the foods you eat (these are classified as essential).

All protein sources derived from animal sources (meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy) are valuable protein sources because they contain all the essential amino acids required by the body. Whilst some plant-based foods also contain protein (soy products, nuts, seeds, grains, lentils, legumes), they are generally lower in their protein content and are missing at least one of the essential amino acids. If you are a vegetarian, you need to ensure that you eat a good range of plant-based foods to ensure you are getting all of your essential amino acids.

It is important to eat sufficient protein as it is used by the body for:

growth; especially important for children, teens, and pregnant women

building and repairing tissue, including lean muscle tissue

immune function

making essential hormones and enzymes

energy; if there are insufficient carbohydrates available in the body, it will use proteins

preserving lean muscle mass.

How much protein do you need?

Your protein requirements, as well as your overall calories, are dependent on a number of factors including:

how active you are

your stress levels

your general health, including if you are pregnant or recovering from an illness.

Your daily requirements can be calculated in the following ways:

1. Method 1 - First you need to calculate your daily calorie requirement and then simply consume 30-40% of this from protein sources.

2. Method 2 is to use your whole hand as your measurement guide. For each of your six meals throughout the day, you should eat one serving of protein equal to the size and thickness of the palm of your hand (not including your fingers). Using this method is a much simpler and easier way of measuring, and will still provide you with between 30-40% of your daily calories in protein.

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