We all know we need to eat protein, but how many of us understand the importance of getting the right amount, as well as the right kind? The fact is that not all proteins are created equal. We spoke to two nutrition experts, who revealed everything we need to know...
What is protein?
Protein is one of three macronutrients that supply the body with energy; carbohydrates and fats are the other two. But while protein can supply the body with some energy, it has another, more important role to play.
‘Protein helps to build and repair tissues while also making enzymes that help the body to function properly,’ explains nutritionist Rob Hobson.
‘Proteins are made up of amino acids which can be thought of as ‘building blocks’. There are 20 amino acids, of which nine are essential, meaning they must be obtained from the diet as the body is not able to make them.’
Protein helps muscles recover
Rob Hobson (robhobson. co.uk) is a nutritionist, author and food journalist
Dr Stacey Lockyer is senior nutritional scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation
How much do we need?
Most women need a minimum of 45g of protein every day for optimum health, and the average person should be aiming for around 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. So for someone who weighs 9st, 45g is plenty, while a 12st woman would need around 61g of protein.
‘As an example, an average skinless chicken breast (120g grilled weight) contains around 36g of protein, and an average egg contains about 8.5g of protein,’ explains Dr Stacey Lockyer, senior nutrition scientist from the British Nutrition Foundation (nutrition,org.uk).
Food surveys show that most British men and women eat up to 55% more than this daily, so generally it’s not something to worry about.
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