Trying to get a handle on this whole protein thing?
Let’s take a minute and break it down together. Because, honestly, protein is a pretty amazing piece of the whole healthy-diet puzzle. In fact, there isn’t a single cell in the body that doesn’t contain protein. Not a single cell.
Protein plays a pretty powerful role inside the human body!
- Repairs and builds bodily tissues.
- Key to metabolic processes.
- Provides tissue structure.
- Helps balance your PH.
- Supports your immune system.
- Transports and stores nutrients.
- Acts as an energy source itself (although protein usually likes to rely on fats and carbs to do that job when they can.)
While protein is often marketed for weight loss — and yes, it certainly does help—it’s so much more than just that.
What Is Protein?
Proteins are lovingly known as the building blocks of life. They are formed by chains of amino acids. Think of it like those colorful paper chains we used to craft in grade school. There are hundreds of amino acids that exist, but the human body only utilizes 22 of them. With just 22 amino acids (colors of paper) we can create all kinds of different chain structures. That’s similar to the way amino acids link to form thousands of proteins in the body to play their own role in maintaining our health at the cellular level.
The body needs all 22 amino acids. Our bodies can actually make some own amino acids, called nonessential amino acids, but there are nine essential amino acids the body cannot make. That means we need to provide our bodies with those essential amino acids.
We can supply those nine essential amino acids through the protein-rich foods that we eat. Since our bodies don’t store protein, it’s necessary to consume enough protein each day to provide our bodies with the nutrition necessary to maintain optimal health.
Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids while incomplete proteins only contain some of them. Protein-rich foods from meat and animal sources are complete proteins. Plant proteins, like nuts and legumes, are incomplete proteins that do not contain all nine essential amino acids.
In order to get all of the amino acids your body needs, seek out lean meats and a variety of plant proteins. According to the Institute of Medicine, we need to consume a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. That means a 160-pound woman would need 58 kilograms or about 2 ounces of protein per day.
That’s the minimum amount recommended, not the maximum. That number, however, changes if we are more active, growing, pregnant, or competitive athletes. To determine your ideal recommended intake, consult your doctor or a certified nutritionist.
Protein Food Sources
Like we discussed earlier, our body requires protein from the foods we eat. The question then becomes, what is the best source of protein? Check out this list of 10 excellent muscle-building foods!
- Eggs: Calorie for calorie, eggs pack a powerful nutritional punch. High in protein, eggs also contain vitamins and minerals like vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, riboflavin, folate, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
- Cottage cheese: Cottage cheese contains a type of protein called casein. Casein is a slow-digesting protein that helps you feel full, longer. Plus, it contains live cultures — or good bacteria — that help your body breakdown and absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Cottage cheese also is an excellent source of calcium.
- Nuts and nut butters: These crunchy gems contain protein, fats, and fiber. They are easy to carry, which makes them great on-the-go protein snacks and a handy gym-bag essential! With vitamins B2 and E, nuts boost the immune system!
- Protein powder: These easy protein “mix-ins” can boost any shake or smoothie from just another snack to one of the greatest high-protein snacks in your kitchen. LadyBossⓇ LEAN is a quality nutritional shake that’s packed protein, vitamins, and other nutrients. Best of all, it tastes like vanilla cake! In fact, everything tastes better with a little LEAN it in.
- Chickpeas: Not only are chickpeas a plant-based protein source, but they also contain slow-digesting carbohydrates and provide an excellent source of fiber!
- Lean meat and fish: As complete proteins, meat and animal proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids the body needs. Rotisserie chicken can be an easy protein snack on the go, and you can usually find it in most supermarkets ready to eat!
- Lentils: Want a low-cost protein option with a long shelf life? Lentils make it easy to top a salad or mix-up your brown rice routine while still pinching pennies. They’re packed with protein and slow-digesting carbs, making them a great post-workout choice for muscle recovery!
- Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is higher in protein than other varieties. Choose plain Greek yogurt and skip the added sugars, too! Yogurt also is a great source of probiotics that help to maintain gut health.
- Seeds: Seeds like hemp, chia, and flax contain protein and healthy fats known as omega-3 and 6. They’re great alternatives to protein powders for those who have trouble digesting whey.
- Tofu: As a vegetarian alternative, this versatile soy product is a great source of protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids like that of its animal product alternatives.
Protein Powder Breakdown
Today the market is filled with words like whey, concentrate, casein, pea, vegan, or isolate following the word protein. So how do we know which is the best source of protein?
Whey and casein are two of the most commonly purchased types of protein, but for different reasons. Casein is slowly absorbed by the body, making it a great protein to sustain you between meals or during your evening slumber. Whey, on the other hand, is quickly broken down and digested, making it an athlete’s easy, go-to post-workout. Some proteins offer a pre-mixed blend of both casein and whey to cover all your bases.
Whey typically comes in three forms: isolate, hydrolyzed, and concentrate. Ranked in order, hydrolyzed is the premium form with a high-protein content and partially broken down amino acids for the fastest absorption by the body. Next, isolate has the highest protein content. Whey concentrate is the cheapest option for the budget-friendly consumer.
Adding protein powder to your pantry of muscle building foods makes consuming protein convenient. Try LadyBossⓇ LEAN. It’s versatile, full of vitamins and nutrients, formulated for women and tastes like vanilla cake.
4 Easy Ways To Use LadyBossⓇ LEAN To Make The Best Protein Snacks
Try mixing LadyBossⓇ LEAN into ordinary foods to turn them into muscle-building foods.
- Smoothies! These nutritional powerhouses make it easy to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can add a scoop of LEAN to virtually any smoothie recipe. The added protein keeps you feeling satisfied for longer, and reduces the number of times you’re tempted to snack.
- Shakes. LEAN tastes so good, it even mixes well in water! Talk about convenience. Throw a scoop in a plastic bag or in the bottom compartment of a triple-action shaker bottle and never be caught unprepared when those nagging cravings hit.
- Energy bites. These tasty balls of deliciousness are just a glorified cookie ball until you add LEAN. But once you do, it’s a game-changer.
- Coffee. Quit skipping breakfast. Throw a scoop of LadyBossⓇ LEAN into your morning coffee and start your day off right. Wake up that metabolism!
- Mug Cakes. That’s right, ladies, dessert doesn’t have to be a dirty little secret anymore. Next time those sweet cravings won’t give up, grab a mug. Healthy, protein-rich sweet swaps like mug cakes can mean the difference between staying on track or falling off the bandwagon. Don’t give up on that whittled waist!
All in All…
- Proteins are the building blocks.
- If you want your body to perform at its full potential, protein needs to be a part of your daily diet. Your body doesn’t store protein like it stores carbohydrates and fats.
- Eat a variety of protein food options for a balanced intake of amino acids and other vitamins and minerals.
- A registered dietician can help you understand your personal protein intake requirements.
- Know your protein powders, not all are equal.
- Try a new recipe and enjoy all the ways you can include protein in your daily nutrition program.