Dr. Yeargin, Is it good for me?
Proteins are one of the most abundant components in your body, second only to water! Proteins are composed of amino acids and are essential for our body’s proper function. Our body cannot make some amino acids, so we have to get them from the foods we eat. The amino acids our body cannot make are called essential amino acids. A complete protein is one that contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need to function. But how much do we need, where do we get them, and is too much a bad thing?
The government Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) amount of protein is based on body weight. Multiply .36 gram by your weight in pounds to find out how much protein you should consume in grams per day. For example, a 150lb woman should consume 54 grams of protein a day (.36gram X 150lb). There are many conditions in which extra protein is required. If you are a growing child, a pregnant or lactating woman, participating in strength or endurance training, or living with certain diseases (cancer, AIDS) you may need more protein. Elderly people (65 and older) also may need more protein. In these cases multiply .8 gram by your weight in pounds to find out how much protein you should consume in a day.
Animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, and poultry are some examples of complete proteins. Vegetables and plant food such as legumes and grains often do not have all the essential amino acids on their own to make a complete protein. When you pair these foods together though, they can become a complete protein (like rice and beans). If you have a varied diet of grains, fruits, and vegetables you are almost guaranteed to consume all the proper amino acids needed. The quality of a protein is based on the biological value (BV- measurement of the source’s proportion of amino acids and how they are absorbed, and used in the body). Some proteins with the highest BV are whey protein, eggs, milk, fish, and beef.
In developing countries protein deficiency is a big problem. In America the average person easily reaches, and most time exceeds, their protein requirements everyday. Excess protein in the body can become a burden for the kidney and liver, which are in charge of getting rid of waste. Most of the proteins in the United States come from animal sources (about 72%). While proteins from vegetables is only at around 8%. When looking into research of high protein diets it is very hard to separate the effects of animal fats from animal proteins. When animal protein is high, so is animal fat consumption. A high intake of animal proteins is linked to many cancers, kidney disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure to name a few.
– Calculate the right amount of daily protein for your age and lifestyle.
– If you are a vegetarian be sure you are getting all the essential amino acids in your diet.
-Choose lean proteins whenever available (stay away from high fat and cholesterol intake that can lead to the problems discussed above).
– Look to egg whites, nuts, fish, beans, grains (like quinoa which is a complete protein), and vegetables as sources for protein.
– Some scientific studies and research has said that older adults (65 and older) benefit from higher protein consumption, while younger adults (31-50) benefit from lower daily protein consumption.
This information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.