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An Introduction to Protein

It seems everywhere you look nowadays everyone is promoting a new diet that praises the power of protein. But whether you want to lose or gain weight, put on muscle or lose fat the importance of protein goes far beyond physical appearance and muscle building. So why is protein so important in our diets?

Protein is an important component in every cell of the body. It contains 22 amino acids, otherwise known as the building blocks of life. Protein is stored in muscles and organs, and the body uses it to grow, build and repair tissues, as well as for the production of hormones.

Protein also makes it possible for blood to carry oxygen around the body. A protein deficiency can impair important body functions and can cause loss of muscle mass. It has been concluded in alot

of scientific research that protein consumption in the average person should be 20-35% of their total calorie intake.

So how does protein affect our weight?

Protein has become increasingly popular in many diets because it plays a large part in reducing and managing hunger. When protein is absorbed it sends a signal to the brain telling the brain to decrease hunger. As stated before, protein also maintains muscle mass so in these diets it curbs hunger without you losing too much muscle, and we know from previous articles that the more lean muscle you have the higher your metabolic rate. If we begin to neglect exercise as we age, muscle mass decreases, so staying fit is key to burning fat thus keeping our metabolism high. Protein also helps decrease the rapid rise and fall of blood sugar and insulin, so you will avoid the sugar highs and lows that you might experience just eating carbohydrates alone.

Certain foods will provide a healthier source of protein than others. Some sources may contain higher levels of saturated fats so it is important to recognise where you are getting your protein from. Fish, chicken, soybeans, nuts and seeds are all great sources of protein with small amounts of saturated fats. Muscle cells are much more metabolically demanding than fat cells so the greater a proportion of muscle to fat, the faster our metabolic rate.

Here are some good examples of proteins –


Egg whites – 7 whites = 25 grams of protein

Cottage cheese – 1 cup = 28 grams

Yogurt – 1 carton = 5 grams

Semi skimmed milk – 1 cup = 8 grams


Beef – 3 oz = 25 grams

Chicken or turkey breast – 3 oz = 25 grams

Pork tenderloin – 3oz = 24 grams

(All cooked weight)


Ocean caught fish – 4 oz = 25-30 grams

Prawns/ Crab/ Lobster – 4 oz = 22 grams

Tuna – 4 oz = 27 grams

Scallops – 4 oz = 25 grams

(All cooked weight)


Beans – ½ cup = 7 grams

Lentils – ½ cup = 9 grams

Quinoa – ½ cup = 6 grams

Tofu – ¼ block = 7 grams

So as you can see from the research it is important to increase the protein content in our diets. There are many varieties of protein out there and it is important to get a variety of protein in order to get all our 22 amino acids. We can get all our amino acids from animal products these are called complete proteins, however most vegetable forms of protein only contain certain amino acids, therefore are classed as incomplete proteins.

For more information on how to increase protein in your diet, or for a fitness program to complement your diet please feel free to contact us

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