Not all protein is the same.
Even if you eat foods high in protein, you may still be missing something. Your body needs protein to build and maintain muscle, repair tissues, reproduce cells, hormone function and to strengthen your immune system. Protein is made up of amino acids. There are 22 amino acids involved in human nutrition. Your body can produce 14 of them, however, the remaining 8 amino acids must be supplied daily through the foods you eat.
Complete versus Incomplete Protein
There is often confusion about identifying proteins, particularly in distinguishing between complete proteins and incomplete proteins, and learning how to combine them in a healthy, balanced diet. Complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids. These high-quality proteins are easily digested and used by the body. Egg whites are considered the highest quality protein—they’re easy for our body to assimilate and they are the standard used in determining protein quality. In addition to egg whites, high-quality sources of protein include fish, chicken and turkey (white meat is better for you), lean beef, low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, and whey or soy protein powder.
Food-combining for Complete Protein
Incomplete, or complimentary, proteins are plant proteins that lack one or more of the essential amino acids. As a result, these proteins are less efficient and/or useful for your body. These proteins should be combined with other foods to create a complete protein. For example, combining beans with rice results is a complete protein that contains all essential amino acids. There are many easy, appealing ways to combine incomplete proteins to create a serving complete with all the essential amino acids: whole wheat bread and peanut butter, toast and a glass of milk, and whole-grain cereal with skim milk are a few examples.
• 10% – 35% of your total calories should come from protein
• Eat a serving of protein with each meal
• Combine your plant protein sources to create complete proteins
How Much Protein for Do You Need?
To find out, multiply your bodyweight in pounds, by one of the following:
• Sedentary adult – 0.4
• Active adult – 0.4-0.6
• Athlete – 0.6-0.9
• Body Builder – 0.6-1.0
Complete Protein Sources
• Eggs and Egg Whites
• Skinless Chicken Breast
• Skinless Turkey Breast
• Lean Ground Turkey
• Low Sodium Low Fat Deli Meats
• Seafood – Fish / Shellfish
• Lean Meats (Grass fed)
• Non-Fat / Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
• Tofu – Low-Fat or Light
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• Unsweetened Whey
• Egg White
• Unsweetened Soy