If you’ve ever read a health article or caught a fitness ad on TV, you probably have heard protein come up when it comes to a healthy diet. The fact is that protein is an important part of keeping our bodies up and running.
But what exactly does it do? Protein actually plays a huge role in a few different systems in our bodies. Keep reading to find out why is protein important and how you can get more of it in your diet.
What Is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that is essential for building and repairing cells and tissues. It is found in the skin, bone, muscle, organs, nails, hair, and almost every other body part or tissue.
Protein is involved in important bodily processes, including immune function. It’s also needed for oxygen transport and the transmission of nerve impulses and growth. The human body doesn’t store protein, yet the body can use it as an energy source when there is no adequate glucose (blood sugar). 1
Why Is Protein Important?
Protein is an integral part of every cell in the human body, including the muscles. If you don’t consume enough protein, your body may not be able to build muscle properly.
Protein should constitute 10 to 25 per cent of total calories for adults. However, if you intend to build muscle by working out, your needs may be higher than this.2
Some foods that make up a high protein diet include the following:
Proteins are commonly found in animal products. But, there are several other alternative sources such as nuts and legumes. Foods made from eggs, meat, seafood, peas and beans, nuts and seeds and processed soy products are considered part of the protein group.
What is considered good protein comes down to personal preferences. Whey protein, for example, is great for muscle building and regeneration. So, people who perform intensive physical exercises or want to bulk up may like it better. 3
Benefits of High Protein Diets
High protein diets have been associated with many health benefits, including reduced blood sugar levels and improvements in body composition.4
Consuming high protein foods can also lead to a drop in weight, if teamed with a healthy diet and exercise.4 The amount of protein you need depends on several factors such as:
- Health status
- Physical activity level
- Body composition goals
So, what are some of the different ways you can pack your diet with protein?
What to Eat for a High Protein Diet
In general, most meats add a good amount of protein to your diet. Some high protein meats include:
- Lean beef mince
- Porterhouse, Rump steak or lean beef
- Yellowfin tuna
- Skinless chicken breast
- Pork chops
Other high-protein foods include eggs, lentils, quinoa, canned sardines, and peanut butter. Grains (particularly whole grains) are also a good source of protein. However, they typically don’t meet protein needs on their own.5
Dairy foods that are high in protein include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and quark. Yogurt is also packed with probiotics that are good for gut health.
Unlike cottage cheese, which is solid pieces of curd, quark is soft and spreadable. Most importantly, quark is higher in protein, lower in sugar and lower in fat. If you’re going to get protein from dairy sources, you may prefer to find organic and grass-fed options, which studies show can be more nutritious.
High Protein Recipes
Dairy is a great way to get more protein into your daily routine, so here are two protein recipes that include dairy.
Yogurt for Breakfast
To start your morning the protein way, include some protein-rich yogurt in your breakfast. You can add berries, nuts or frozen fruit such as apples to make it healthier and tastier. When you’re ready to eat, scoop out your yoghurt into a bowl and top it with fruit or your favourite breakfast cereal.
If you’re craving comfort food but want to hit your protein intake for the day, then try this Lasagne recipe with a twist. The recipe contains over 40g of protein per serve and is made with quark – a soft fresh dairy product that is delicious in flavour and chock-full of protein. If you want to learn more about quark, find out more in our blog: “What the Quark? What It Is, Health Benefits, and How to Use It”.
Don’t Skip the Protein
It’s true that protein is an essential part of every diet. But not all protein sources are created equal. There are plenty of ways to get this macronutrient, such as meat or dairy.
For high quality, organic dairy products to fulfil your protein needs, check out our range of Australian-made bio-dynamic, organic dairy products at a retailer near you.
- Kubala, J 2021, “Are There Dangers to Eating Too Much Protein?”, healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-protein
- Pendick, D 2015, “How much protein do you need every day?”, Harvard Health Blog, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096
- Spritzler, F 2018, “The 7 Best Types of Protein Powder”, healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-protein-powder
- Gunnars, K 2017, “How Protein Can Help You Lose Weight Naturally”, healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-protein-can-help-you-lose-weight
- Gunnars, K 2020, “20 Delicious High Protein Foods”, healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/20-delicious-high-protein-foods