What Is Protein? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Two pieces of raw steak

Protein–or albumin–is not just an important topic for athletes.

It also plays a crucial role for those looking to eat a balanced diet, or people who want to shed a few pounds. In Protein 101, you’ll learn how much protein your body needs, what biological value means and what foods are high in protein.

Protein

Natural sources of protein

These natural foods are high in protein:

  • Meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Milk and milk products
  • Tofu and soy products+
  • Legumes
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts

Biological value

When it comes to protein, you’ll most likely hear the term “biological value” (or BV) at some point. The biological value of a hen’s egg is fixed at 100. The higher the biological value of a certain food, the more similar the protein contained is to our own body’s protein, and the easier it can be transformed into endogenous protein.  The BV of beef amounts to 92, that of rice is 81.  With that being said, the human body needs both animal and vegetable protein.  For an optimal protein intake, it’s best to combine the two.  By combining animal and vegetable protein, you can increase their biological value.  A few examples for dishes with an ideal BV:

  • Casseroles with egg and potatoes
  • Crepes
  • Meat patties with mashed potatoes
  • Chili con carne
  • Chili sin carne

More protein = more muscles?

You wish!  Working out is what counts when it comes to your dream body.  By taking in more protein than your body needs to build muscle, you don’t just magically turn into a muscle man (or woman). Protein also contains calories. If your body gets too much energy (calories), it will start building fat depots.

Protein

Rule of thumb for your protein needs

Scientific organizations recommend a daily protein intake of between 0.8 and 1.7g per kg of body weight.  Therefore, an easy-to-remember rule of thumb would be: 1g per kilogram or 0.5g per pound of body weight.

For example, an active woman of average height could have an average protein need of 64g per day. This equals one cup of natural yogurt (250g, 1% fat), one egg, one slice of bread with cheese and one portion of turkey breast (150g).

Calculate your daily personal protein intake on your own:

Two pieces of raw steak

Protein pre or post-workout?

Studies show that protein, both if consumed before and after working out, promotes muscle growth. However, after your workout it is vital to combine protein intake with carbohydrates.

Protein with every meal

Add a small portion of protein to all your meals to provide your body with sufficient protein throughout the day. Plus, what many people don’t know is that protein keeps you feeling full longer. Pay attention to the quality of protein you take in and opt for vegetable protein whenever possible, e.g. for lentils or beans.

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