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The importance of protein in our diet

A lot of people talk about protein being an important macronutrient. However, it is often misunderstood about the benefits of protein, both for our health, aiding in injury healing and also maximizing our performance.

Our macronutrients are composed of 3 forms of food, being carbohydrate, fat and protein. Protein being one of these, has a role to play is muscle growth and recovery. The molecule itself is made up of amino acids. Usually when protein is ingested, it is broken into these amino acid chains to help with muscle repair, muscle growth, as well as the repair of bone tissue! Protein also plays an importance role in making many of the important hormones and enzymes in our body that are essential for daily function.

Amino acids commonly help with:

  • Helping repair cells and make new cells
  • Protecting the body from viruses and bacteria
  • Transporting molecules throughout the body
  • Promoting proper growth and development in children, teenagers and pregnant women

The first point is particularly important because as we exercise, whether that be resistance training with weights in the gym or even doing cardiovascular exercise like running, muscle tissue is broken down and this needs to be repaired in the process before our next bout of exercise. Ingesting protein can also help with muscle growth to help build a stronger, more robust muscle next time we hit the gym or go for a run!

The nutrient reference values for New Zealand and Australia recommend 0.8grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, if we are doing more demanding exercise or are trying to build more muscle then our threshold would be higher.

Some common sources of protein include:

  • Meat, chicken and fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts, seeds and grains
  • Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils
  • Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Soy products

The last consideration would be to add a protein powder to your diet if you feel it is difficult to consume your required daily intake from food. However, we would recommend adding some of the whole foods above first! Add some protein to your diet today. Your body will definitely thank you!

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