Updated: Aug 2, 2020
I talk a lot about protein and the importance of including it at every meal/snack. Not only does protein help us feel fulling for longer and help to regulate our blood sugar but is also vital for our brain health.
All protein is built from special building blocks called amino acids. All of the thousands of molecules in your body is built from only nine amino acids so they are called essential which means we must get from our diet. These amino acids are the raw materials we use to make neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, GABA and acetylcholine) and the receptors on our cells that they land on to transmit messages.
If you don't eat adequate amounts of protein throughout the day, your brain will not work optimally. You will feel sluggish, foggy, anxious, distracted, tired and even depressed. Sound familiar?
A few people have messaged me about how to calculate how much protein they need each day. As with most things in nutrition, there’s no simple answer. Your individual needs depend on your health, body composition, main goal, and level of physical activity (type, intensity, and duration). And even taking all this into account, you’ll end up with a starting number, which you’ll need to adjust through self-experimentation.
If you’re sedentary, aim for at least 1.2 g/kg (0.54 g/lb). Keep in mind that your body composition will improve more if you add consistent activity, especially resistance training, than if you merely hit a protein target.
If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to maintain your weight, aim for 1.4–1.6 g/kg (0.64–0.73 g/lb). People who are trying to keep the same weight but improve their body composition (more muscle, less fat) may benefit from the higher end of the range.
If you’re overweight or obese and want to lose weight, aim for 1.2–1.5 g/kg (0.54–0.68 g/lb)
If you’re pregnant, aim for 1.66–1.77 g/kg (0.75–0.80 g/lb).
If you’re lactating, aim for at least 1.5 g/kg (0.68 g/lb).
If you’re vegan or obtain most of your protein from plants, then your protein requirements may be higher because plant-based proteins are usually inferior to animal-based proteins with regard to both bioavailability and amino acid profile.
For example, if you weigh 76 kg and have a sedentary lifestyle you would require approximately 91 grams of protein
What does 91 grams of protein look like?
2 slices of brown bread
Some meal ideas to ensure you get enough protein through the day
Mixed vegetable omelette/frittata
Smoothie with good quality protein powder (Nuzest, Sun Warrior, That Protein)
Fruit, yogurt, nuts and seeds
Overnight oats with blueberries and ground seed mix
Lentil soup and oatcakes
Mixed bean salad with mackerel/tofu
Chicken/tofu and rainbow salad
Salmon fillet with roast vegetables
Vegetable stir fry with tofu and brown rice
Lamb or chickpea tagine with cauliflower rice
If you are struggling with your mood and would like to discuss how changes to diet and lifestyle may help please contact me- firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram Mood and Food Nurse UK
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