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Understanding Protein, Pure and Simple

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So how much do you think you know about protein? I think most people are extremely confused on this issue thanks to boatloads of misinformation out there from people trying to sell high protein diets and others trying to keep you eating unhealthy animal protein.

Let’s start with the basics. Protein by definition means primary substance. Protein is an important nutrient required for the building, maintenance and repair of tissues in the body. Amino acids, the component parts of protein, are the biochemical basis for life and are required by every cell in our bodies. It is not enough to know that protein is vital to the function of our bodies, we must also learn how much we need and from what sources it should come from. First, lets talk about how much protein the average person needs. The RDA for protein for an average person is.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. To figure this out for yourself, take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply that number by.36, the answer is your recommended protein intake. Many nutritionists believe that this formula is inflated and that 25-35 grams of protein a day is sufficient.

No matter which source you want to go by, you are probably taking in a lot more than the recommendation. The sad fact is that the average American consumes over 100 grams of protein a day! Eating too much protein puts much undo stress on your body. Too much protein puts a huge strain on your kidneys. The excess protein releases nitrogen into the blood and then the kidneys must work very hard to expel this waste through the urine.

Another downfall of eating too much protein is the calcium drain. It is a fact that if you take in too much protein, it will cause you to excrete calcium through your urine and this could lead to osteoporosis.

Now that we realize how much protein we need and have some reasons not to over do it, let’s discuss healthy, versus unhealthy sources. Unfortunately the reason that the average American takes in more than 100 grams of protein a day is because we, as a nation, rely heavily on animal products for our food sources. If you have some meat and/or cheese or eggs at each meal, which many people do, than you don’t even have to overeat to greatly overdo the protein. It is the ratio that is off. As most of us know, the majority of your diet should consist of carbohydrates, this is your body’s main energy source.

Animal proteins are the unhealthiest form of protein because of their high cholesterol levels, the workload they create on the digestive system and for many of them, their saturated fat. Beef, pork, cheese, eggs, etc. cannot be considered healthy forms of protein, they lead the way with high saturated fat content and high cholesterol. Healthier choices are turkey, chicken, low fat cheese, etc., because although you still get the cholesterol you don’t get as much unhealthy fat. The healthiest sources for protein are fish, legumes, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, egg whites, nuts and nut butters and low fat yogurt (preferably soy based).

Many people see protein (meat) as the ‘main course’ of meals in the United States. This has led us down the road we are now on with alarming incidents of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity. Make good, healthy complex carbohydrates and vegetables the main source of your food intake to get your protein level down to where it should be. You will feel better, have more energy and be healthier for it.

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Source by Barry Lovelace

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