5 Things You Need to Know About Protein
Protein, a macronutrient praised for its nutritional benefits, is more than just chicken. Originating from the Greek word “proteios” (loosely translated as “first one” or “first in rank”), proteins are formed by a varying bunch of amino acids that are chained together by peptide bond. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s jump right into some of the other things you may not (but should) know about protein.
It keeps you alive.
Protein is fundamental to your very being as it’s responsible for both building and repairing muscle tissues. As one of your diet’s three macronutrients, protein makes up an average of 15% of any adult’s bodyweight and exists in every single cell occupied by the human body. You couldn’t live without it.
There isn’t just ONE
Fun fact: you are housing MILLIONS of proteins. Research shows that your body alone can generate nearly 2 million of the 10+ million different kinds of proteins identified across varying biological organisms.
Though plentiful, not all of these are created equal, nor do they serve the same purpose. While some of these exist to store other nutrients, many others stand by for defense—for example, hormonal proteins like insulin work with the pancreas to regulate blood sugar, while structure-focused collagen forms the connective tissue found in your muscles, bones and cartilage. Other kinds of protein, like the whey found in your supplements and dairy products, occupy a more functional role by helping your body transport water and nutrients.
It’s not only for the gym
While a good protein shake makes for the perfect workout companion, protein contributes to more than just muscle building—it’s integral to your health! Among its many benefits, you can credit it for:
- Keeping your blood sugar stable
- Lifting your energy levels
- Assisting in weight management
- Helping you stay mentally astute
- Promoting bone and heart health
- Helping slow the aging process
Less is (sometimes) more.
Of the 20 existing amino-acids that make up the “fabric” of protein, your body is equipped to produce only 9 of them. So how do you get the other 11? That’s where food and supplements step in.
Although we’ve determined that protein is required in our diets, Canadian recommendations for how much have fluctuated over the years. 1939’s suggestion of 10-12% has evolved into today’s standard of 35%, climbing even higher when it comes to kids and new moms. And while protein-rich diets are favourable for proper nutrition, the level of need for every individual varies. If you’re not sure how much protein you need each day, use this as a ballpark:
- Adults 19+ interested in maintaining their current appearance need no more than 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight—this means that an adult weighing 68 kg would require 60g of protein per day.
- When you’re under an unusual amount of stress, whether that’s from a seasonal cold or pressure at work, your protein needs increase by 1.2-1.8g per kg each day
- Through gestation, protein recommendations average at 1.1g per kg per day, soaring up to 1.3g per kg while breastfeeding
- If your ambitions are set on maximizing muscle, your protein intake should range from 1.4 to 2.9g per kg per day
It’s more than just meat.
Fake news alert: meat is not the only dietary source of protein. Not only are foods like fish, eggs, nuts, beans and legumes rich in protein, but they are easy to find and flexible enough to fit most diets!
|Food Source||Amount||Protein||Perfect in…|
|Black beans||1 cup||15 g||Olympic-Worthy Veggies and Black Bean Bowl|
|Salmon||3 oz fillet||17 g||Baked Salmon with Pomegranate Salsa|
|Chicken||1 cup, chopped||38 g||Lemon-Ginger Chicken Stir Fry|
|Quinoa||100 g||14.1 g||Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa Salad|
If you think you’re not quite filling the gaps regardless of what diet you follow, a supplement may be a good option for you—most provide roughly 20g of protein. When coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise, a supplement is also a great way to keep an eye on day-to-day energy and fitness goals.
Want to feel fuller longer? Sub your morning carbs with a protein shake! Not only will this help you keep hunger at bay, but it will help you feel more balanced while you kick that post-coffee craving. Building your own is easy: just pop your favourite fruits into your blender, add a milk or dairy alternative of your choice (we like almond milk!), a scoop of protein powder, and a cup of ice, and blend a-whey (see what we did there?)!
A nutrient-dense supplement can give you 100% of your daily vitamins and help make room for more fruits and veggies in your diet!
What’s your favourite protein-rich recipe? Let us know in the comments!
- Sinatra, D. S. (2017, December). Why Do We Need Protein In Our Diets? Heart MD Institute. Retrieved from https://heartmdinstitute.com/diet-nutrition/need-protein-diets/
- Osterweil, N. (2004, January). The Benefits of Protein. Web MD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/men/features/benefits-protein#1
- Pendick, D. (2018, January). How much protein do you need every day? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096
- Woods, P. (2012, August). Eight Types of Protein and Their Function. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/eight-types-protein-function-4559.html
- Axe, Dr. (2015, May). Protein Foods: 8 Health Benefits of Foods High in Protein. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/protein-foods/
- NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018, March). What are proteins and what do they do? Retrieved from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/howgeneswork/protein
- Whitbread, D. MScN. (2016, April). 16 Nuts and Seeds High in Protein. Retrieved from
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