There is a lot of confusion about protein. We know bodybuilders need a lot, but what about the rest of us? What does protein do for the average woman or man who just wants to look good and stay healthy?
The answer is: a lot! Protein is the basic building block for the human body. It has been called the scaffolding on which the body is built. We must have protein to build muscle tissue.
Women sometimes worry that eating too much protein will result in building too much muscle. In fact, female anatomy and biology prevent that kind of bulking up. People who want to attain or maintain a slim, healthy body still need plenty of protein, and strong muscle tissue is also necessary to burn fat.
The most abundant protein in the body is collagen. Collagen acts as a glue to hold our bodies together. It is collagen that gives young skin its plump resiliency. Collagen is also found in bones, muscles and tendons.
After the age of 40, however, collagen levels begin to decline. This affects not only skin, but also muscles, including the heart. This is the age when consciously replacing muscle tissue becomes most important, for weight loss and maintenance as well as overall health. One pound of muscle burns 50 to 100 calories a day.
To build the body you want, choose high quality proteins like organic fish, meat and eggs. Eat a variety of legumes like lentils, peas and beans. Three grains high in protein are quinoa, spelt, and amaranth. Add a handful a day of raw nuts and seeds. You can also include yogurt and other dairy products if you tolerate them well.
Protein powder is a helpful way to get protein without cooking. Just add protein powder to a smoothie of vegetables and fruits, along with some almond or coconut milk, some ground flaxseed or chia seed, and a few ice cubes.
Adult women need approximately 46 grams of protein daily, and men need approximately 56 grams daily. Pregnant woman and nursing mothers need about 71 grams daily. If you exercise heavily, add about 50 percent more protein.