Everything you ever wanted to know about Protein: Part Two

protein

What is protein found in?

Pretty much any food that we wouldn’t class as junk food! Even then we have some protein is certain sugary sweets (that’s not an endorsement by the way!). Protein is found in meats, dairy products, grains, vegetables and so on.

What’s important to note that that the amount of protein in each food varies. The amount of protein in a sirloin steak will be much higher than in a cup of broccoli.

 

Is too much protein dangerous?

 

Too much of anything isn’t good right? When you take in too much protein, your body takes what it needs and simply converts the protein into other fuels. Often excess protein can be converted by the body into sugar, and subsequently fat in the body. Pretty amazing right! With added fat in the body comes a host of other issues.

 

Simply put, eat as much as you need and don’t go to extremes.

 

How much protein do I need?

Amazingly scientists have discovered human beings can function on as little as 30g of protein a day. Before you throw away all the food in your press, listen up!

Whilst 30g of protein a day may be the minimum humans need to survive, it’s not recommended to eat that little. Any form of stress, be it illness, environmental pollution or even healthy stresses like exercise, increase the amount of protein the body needs.

For people who don’t exercise, it’s generally recommended to eat about .75g of protein per kilo of bodyweight. For those who exercise it can be almost double this at 1.5g per kilo.

 

Nonetheless, most people would generally do well eating 100g or more of complete protein a day.

 

What’s a complete protein and where do I buy one?

 

A complete protein is a source of protein that contains all essential amino acids. For you carnivores out there don’t worry. Dairy and animal products are mostly complete proteins.

 

For the veggies and vegans out there, a little mixing and matching is important. Because many vegetables don’t contain all essential Amino Acids, foods must be combined to get enough of the good stuff. For example, combine beans and rice and you have all essential AAs. Similarly with dairy and grains or peanuts and eggs. You just need to be creative.

 

Is all protein digested equally?

 

Simply put, no.

 

When discussing how much protein is in a food product, we really should be looking at the Net Protein Utilisation of that food. The NPU of a food is the percentage of protein contained in that food which is retained by the body after the food has been eaten. Let me explain. One egg contains about 12.5% protein but it’s NPU is high at 94%. Therefore 94% of the eggs protein is absorbed and used by the body whilst the other 6% is simply discarded.

 

So what foods are highest in NPU? What gives the best bang for the buck?

 

Meats and Fish: Generally have an NPU between 65 and 80%

Dairy Products: 70-94%. By the way, Whey protein has an NPU of about 82% and Casein of about 67%.

Seeds and Nuts: 40-60%

Pulses: 30 – 60%

Grains: 45 – 70%. Whole grain rice has an NPU of 70%!

Vegetables: 30-70%

 

How much protein can the body absorb at once?

 

According to Scientific America, the body can’t absorb more than 30g of protein at one sitting. Hence slower digesting proteins such as peanuts, fattier meats and casein may prove more effective as they are digested over a long period of time.So there you have it. Everything you wanted to know about protein and more.

 

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments!

 

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