The keeping it real guide to protein – by guest expert Larissa Meecham APDExpert Examiner — By Emma Stirling on July 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm
With the Olympics in full swing our hallway has become the gymnastics, vault run up. There are catapulting kiddies everywhere. But it seems at my training group it’s all talk about what athletes eat and I keep hearing protein, protein protein. Do you pump up your protein? How much is the right amount? Is more really better? We asked our July Sub of the Month to take you through the busy persons guide to harnessing protein power:
Larissa Meecham is an Accredited Practising Dietitian working at Lite n’ Easy in Brisbane. She is the Scoop Sub of the Month for July and is passionate about all things food & nutrition related. Check out her full bio here and connect with her on Twitter @LarissaMeecham_
Are you harnessing the real power of protein?
You don’t need to drink raw eggs like Rocky Balboa or consume a whole cow, but our bodies do need adequate protein to function properly. Protein is important for building and repairing tissues, especially muscle, and it is the basis for creating antibodies to fight infection. More importantly for us busy bodies, protein helps increase appetite satisfaction or satiety and keeps you feeling fuller for longer assisting with weight loss or maintenance.
So how much is enough?
Busy bodies: For most of us, the recommended daily intake (RDI) is 0.8g protein per kilogram of body weight. This translates to 56g protein for a 70kg woman and 72g protein for a 90kg man.
Body builders: For those wishing to build muscle and look more like Arnie Schwarzenegger, slightly higher amounts of 1.0-1.5g/kg body weight are recommended. But just remember, 1g of protein isn’t equal to 1g of chicken or meat. In fact, 100g chicken provides only 25g protein.
Successful slimmers: Although it’s not difficult to meet the requirements for protein, new research is focusing more and more on satiety. The Diogenes Study supports the theory that a higher protein (~1.0g/kg body weight), lower GI diet can aid in weight management.
Vegetarians: It is a common myth that protein needs are difficult to meet on a vegetarian diet, but the RDI for vegetarians is the same as the general meat-eating population. The Medical Journal of Australia has just released an excellent summary on protein diets for vegetarians.
Now it’s time for the fun stuff..here’s my top 5 protein rich food sources and some fab recipes to try:
A nutritional powerhouse, providing healthy fats, hunger-busting protein and loads of vitamins and minerals, there is often a misconception that eggs are ‘bad’ for you. I often hear things like ‘eggs just have too much saturated fat’ or ‘I don’t eat eggs because they contain cholesterol’. Contrary to popular belief, eggs are actually more nutritious than ever before, with lower saturated fat & higher Vitamin D levels than 30 years ago. Eating 6-7 eggs per week fits within guidelines for a healthy eating plan.
Dressing eggs up (and getting a serve of veg at the same time) with this beautiful nicoise salad?
Are you nuts about nuts and seeds? LSA (Linseeds, Sunflower & Almonds) will solve all of your nutty problems. Enjoy this high protein vitality booster to increase your energy levels. It’s the perfect addition to any diet to jazz up your nutrient intake and get that spring back in your step.
Adding LSA to virtually anything, be it dukkah, cakes, breads, muffins, salads, breakfast cereals, stir-fries?
Turning LSA into a healthy sweet treat with this sesame & tahini slice?
Blending up a blueberry & banana smoothie with a tablespoon of LSA?
Legumes are one of the best sources of plant protein, not just for vegetarians. They’re also low in saturated fat, so even if you’re not a vego, it’s a good idea to include a ‘meat-free’ option each week, like‘Meatless Monday’? “But how do I make them taste good?”, I hear you say. Combining beans with a wide variety of other foods as well as fresh herbs & spices can really increase their flavour.
Baked beans on toast for breaky?
Broadbean dip for a quick afternoon snack?
A falafel wrap ?
There’s always a lot of focus on the omega-3 benefits of oily fish like salmon, but the protein content is often overlooked. Recent studies have found that salmon contains small bioactive protein molecules that may provide special support for joint cartilage, insulin effectiveness, and control of inflammation in the digestive tract…….all the more reason to include this superfood in your weekly meal plans. Aim for 2-3 salmon/fish meals per week.
Tinned salmon on some wholegrain crackers for afternoon tea?
An oldie, but a goodie! Lean red meat is an important source of top quality nutrients, including being one of the highest sources of protein and a much needed source of iron. People are often wary of consuming red meat due to the saturated fat content, but as a general rule of thumb (if you’re not vegetarian) you should try and include 2-3 lean red meat sources a week for good nutrition.
Sliced lamb fillet on a bed of cous cous with chickpeas, diced tomato, pine nuts, red onion & preserved lemon?
Thanks Larissa. What a fun month together! Loved your culinary creativity. I bet our lovely readers have loads of protein power recipes and tips to share too? Love your comments below.