Protein is one of the hottest trends in the snack industry. Even though everyone is looking for ways to increase their protein intake, there’s still a lot of misinformation out there.
When it comes to protein, it’s about quality over quantity. While animal products are generally more dense in protein, they are also dense in things like saturated fat and cholesterol. With a more plant-based diet, protein needs can be met with quality ingredients like lentils, beans, nuts and seeds.
A common misconception about plant-based proteins, is that you’re not getting the nutrients you need since they are mostly incomplete proteins, which don’t offer all nine essential amino acids. But as long as enough incomplete protein is consumed through the day, they can be combined and used as complete protein.
Most people tend to eat their largest meal for dinner and typically these meals contain protein-rich foods. Research suggests however, that spreading your protein intake throughout the day is more effective in helping to build lean muscle. The body is only able to use the protein it needs at any one time. Eating small amounts of protein spread out between each meal is ideal. If you consume too much protein at one time there is the potential for the excess protein to be stored as fat.
Natural protein snacks like nuts and seeds are perfect for keeping your protein intake up throughout the day.
While protein powders are convenient, they can often lack the vitamins and fiber that whole foods provide. High protein bars also may seem healthy, but some are full of added sugar and high in calories.
You should always aim to eat a balanced nutrient rich diet mainly from whole foods, with powders and bars used as a supplement rather than a replacement.
For an average 2,000 calorie diet, the recommended daily amount of protein is about 50 grams. Eat a chicken breast and container of Greek yogurt, and you’re there. If you’re eating a well-balanced diet, you could actually be consuming up to double that amount.
Going back to the quality of protein mattering more, make sure you are meeting your daily requirements from whole, healthy foods.
It’s a fact that your body can’t properly repair or generate muscle without the essential amino acids found in food sources of protein. But just eating protein isn’t enough to build or maintain strength and muscle mass. You need exercise to do that. Always aim for a healthy balance of diet and exercise.