The short answer is “very!” Protein is the basic building block to every part of your body, and is used to build muscle, repair old cells and tissues and make new tissues. In addition to being an essential component to every cell, tissue and organ, the enzymes and hormones that are produced by the body are also made up of protein, making it a vital part of children’s and pregnant women’s diets due to the high rate of growth occurring in these groups of people.
Every protein is made up of substances called amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids that are combined in many different ways in order to make up all of the proteins in the body.
These amino acids are either essential, because the body cannot make them and you must get them through eating food, or nonessential, because the body is able to make them regardless of your food intake. It is important to eat a good balance of essential amino acids to make sure that you are getting enough of all the different types to help with daily body functions and health.
Essential Amino Acids
Essential amino acids are found in many foods, such as eggs, fish, meat and dairy products. There are plant sources of protein, too, including tofu, beans, nuts and lentils. However, people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet can sometimes have a difficult time getting enough protein because plant sources of protein tend to be low in one or more of these essential amino acids. The best way to combat this problem is to combine multiple plant proteins. For example, eating rice with beans, or peanut butter on whole grain bread ensures that you are getting a variety of the essential amino acids that you need!
Everyone needs to eat protein, but the amount required depends on a person’s age, body shape and size, and special conditions like pregnancy and breastfeeding.
To figure out how much protein you need to eat, first figure out your weight in kilograms by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2. Most people need around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. To figure this out, multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8. For example, a woman who is 200 pounds is 90.9 kilograms and needs to eat around 72 grams of protein each day. Of course, this is just a general formula, and you should speak with your doctor about your individual requirements.
Eating a diet rich in protein can help you feel less hungry and more satisfied throughout the day. You now have plenty of options to choose from, so find a way to add some extra protein to your salads, breakfasts and snacks for a fuel-filled day!