Protein Power

The Benefits of Protein

High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are the hottest thing since sliced bread and every food marketer in the known universe appears to want a piece of the protein pie.

Body builders are snatching, grabbing, and gulping down protein shakes. Dieters are gobbling down protein bars (and shunning pasta) in hopes of quick loss. Why?

The Power of Protein

It's easy to understand the excitement. Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a "macronutrient," meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. Vitamins and minerals, which are needed in only small quantities, are called "micronutrients." But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply.

So you may assume the solution is to eat protein all day long. Not so fast, say nutritionists.

The truth is, we need less total protein that you might think. But we could all benefit from getting more protein from better food sources.

How Much Protein Is Enough?

We've all heard the myth that extra protein builds more muscle. In fact, the only way to build muscle is through exercise. Bodies need a modest amount of protein to function well. Extra protein doesn't give you extra strength. According to some health organizations you can gain from the following amount of protein in your diet:

• Teenage boys and active men can get all the protein they need from three daily servings for an approx. total of 200grams.

• For children age 2 to 6, most women, and some older people, the government recommends two daily servings for an approx. total of 150grams.

• For older children, teen girls, active women, and most men, the guidelines give the nod to two daily servings for an approx. total of 175grams

• Beware that the body only processes a certain amount of protein and as it comes from animal sources be sure to cook it in the correct method to ensure you are not giving yourself a blast of fat at the same time.

Where does it come from?

The easiest way to identify what is protein and what is not is by using the ‘eyes’ rule. If it comes from something that has eyes or is a by-product of something that has eyes then it is usually protein. For example from cows – steak, milk, cheese, whey protein powder etc. try to include a variety of protein in every meal if possible. For vegetarians the next best thing is nuts, pulses/beans and quinoa. Try and include protein in every meal you consume throughout the day to give your metabolism a boost and aid your weightloss.

For other tips and advice direct your fitness/nutrition based questions to tom.horton@cadburyhouse.com.

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