15 Things You Should Know About Protein

January 15, 2018  |  
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Gettyimages.com/African American woman eating at backyard barbecue

Protein is such a buzz word. If a product has a lot of protein, you better believe it’s going to advertise that largely and proudly across the packaging. Many smoothie shops allow you to add a shot of protein for a small fee—what even is a shot of protein? Do we even know? It’s not like they’re throwing half a chicken breast in your banana smoothie. For the most part, people generally agree on the fact that protein is good, and the more the better. Oddly enough, barely 60 years ago, diets focused more on carbs and fats from vegetables and starches. This protein obsession is relatively new in the grand scheme of human diets. So maybe we should learn a little bit about it before we build a shrine in its honor. Here are interesting facts about protein everyone should know.

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This cheese is high in it

We don’t often think of cheese as our friend in the protein department, but did you know that low-sodium parmesan cheese contains over 20 grams of protein in just half a cup?

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This fish is high in it, too

When it comes to protein and fish, yellow fin tuna is your best bet. This fish has over 40 grams of protein in just six ounces of the stuff. Sardines are the next highest protein fish, with around 42 grams of protein in six ounces.

Bigstockphoto.com/Chicken Satay; barbecued skewered chicken shown on white plate with peanut dipping sauce on the side.

Chicken has more than steak

Many people believe that steak is the end all, be all when it comes to protein. But in fact chicken has more protein than steak. A four-ounce chicken breast will give you 35 grams of protein, while the same size steak will only yield 28 grams of protein.

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It should make up this much of your diet

Depending on your goals and lifestyle (active, bodybuilder, inactive etc.) protein should make up between 10 and 35 percent of your diet. So no matter how you look at it, it should not take up half of your plate.

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Eggs are the best protein

Our body uses 100 percent of the protein found in eggs, while only using 79 percent of the protein in poultry and 69 percent of that in beef.

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Most Americans eat too much

Most Americans consume too much protein, with many eating around 70 to 90 grams of the stuff a day, while they should only be having around 45 to 56 grams per day, depending on age and gender.

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Except for these Americans

Adolescent and elderly women are two groups that tend not to consume enough protein. If you’re in this group, check your levels.

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Older people need more

As people age, they actually need more protein because their bodies do not use the protein they eat as efficiently. Those 70 and up may need as much as 70 to 80 grams of protein a day.

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It can lead to weight loss or weight gain

If you swap out carbs for protein, you can lose weight. If you simply add protein to your diet, you can gain weight. When your body gets too much protein, it stores the excess as fat.

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Animal protein is best for us

Animal protein is most like our own, human protein, so our bodies more readily use it. That’s not to say that vegetarians can’t get sufficient protein, but they need to be far more aware of their protein intake and food choices.

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Too much can cause a problem

You can only use around 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal. After that, your kidneys and liver become overworked.

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You don’t need it after you exercise

You don’t need to chow down on protein right after exercising in order for it to help you build muscles. Simply having enough protein throughout the day will help you build muscles.

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Powders should only be supplements

Protein powder can be good, but it should not replace meat. Meat provides micro and macronutrients that protein powder simply doesn’t.

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You can have rice and beans separately

While it’s true that vegetarians cannot get all nine essential amino acids on just rice or beans, and must have them together, they don’t need to have them in the same meal. Simply having the two foods on the same day will suffice.

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It’s bad for your GI tract if you’re low on fiber

Many people say that meat-eating is bad for your GI tract, but those individuals assume that people who eat meat don’t eat enough vegetables, fruit, and fiber. If you follow the recommended ratio of a plate that’s around 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent starch, and 25 percent protein, meat shouldn’t upset your stomach.

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