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October 12, 2016
For many years, protein was synonymous with men, masculinity and muscle builders. That image and attitude is thankfully changing. Protein, is critical for all of us and proper intake is essential for not only our muscle development and repair but also our brain, nervous system, immune system, endocrine system and all of our organs as a whole.
The World Health Organization recommends at least 0.8 grams of protein/ kg of body weight for adults every single day which is about 55 grams/day for a 150lb llb adult. Some health experts recommend more, especially if you’re physically active, pregnant, nursing or in menopause.
The RDA for those pregnant or nursing is approximately 71 grams/day. The quantity and quality of protein affects fetal growth and development as well as the composition and production level of breast milk. According to researchers, menopausal women should consume 25-30 grams of protein with each meal, in order to maintain protein muscle synthesis, which is essential to the body’s ongoing growth, repair, maintenance of skeletal muscle and for reducing body fat.
Protein plays an important role and is essential for women as much as for men. It’s the key building block for all of our cells, and one food category that we just don’t want to underestimate.
Proteins make up many of our hormones including fertility hormones such as FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) as well as testosterone which are important for both ovulation and libido. If you’re dealing with infertility issues, studies point to vegetable-based protein being a better choice over animal sources.
Thyroid hormones require the amino acid tyrosine from protein to be synthesized, along with iodine. These hormones are essential for metabolism which regulates our weight, energy production, temperature and female hormone function.
Research tells us that protein raises insulin levels to support storage of amino acids and absorption of nutrients, but unlike carbs it also produces glucagon and balances our blood sugar after a meal. This reduces the spike and crash effect that often comes when we eat carbs. The result is feeling satiated longer after a meal and not running to the kitchen for a sugary snack soon after.
Melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating our sleep and wake cycles, is made from the amino acid tryptophan. Having protein in the evening helps to calm the nervous system and support melatonin production. Melatonin is also helpful for anti-aging, which is why we call nighttime sleep beauty sleep!
Your hair and nails are primarily made up of protein fibers. Inadequate protein will slow down new hair growth and cause more hair-splitting as well as nails that break more easily. Protein also builds collagen which gives our skin its youthful elasticity, and contributes to bone strength.
Consuming high-quality protein is key for maintaining a healthy body- not just for bodybuilders, but for anyone leading a busy, active life. For more information on choosing the protein that’s right for you, check out this blog, and ask your nutritionist or local health and wellness store for their advice.