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Protein is made up of amino acids—the building blocks of life. It’s needed for human health, in addition to carbohydrates and fats. Protein is talked a lot about in the diet and nutrition community. However, most people don’t know how much protein they actually need. In developed countries, people usually eat well above their body’s daily protein needs.
Health Benefits of Protein
Protein breaks down into amino acids, which are essential for many components of health. There are nine essential amino acids that you have to get from food sources. When a food contains all essential amino acids, it is referred to as a complete protein.
Complete protein sources include:
- Dairy products
Incomplete sources of protein do not provide all of the essential amino acids.
Your body needs protein for many reasons. Protein supports:
- Healthy muscles
- Tissue repair
- Immune function
- Cellular and DNA health
- Healthy hair and skin
Protein sources also provide needed vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. They can serve as a source of energy, too, during high levels of exertion (think endurance athletes). Protein is mostly broken down into amino acids during digestion, but when there is extra, it is converted to glucagon. Glucagon is a peptide hormone that can trigger the release of glycogen from the liver. Glycogen is stored glucose, used as an energy reserve for when blood sugar drops lower in between meals.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Everyone’s protein needs are a little different and vary with age and stage of life.
Nora Gedgaudas, CNS, FNTP, BCHN is the author of Primal Body, Primal Mind and Primal Fat Burner. She is also one of the Price-Pottenger board members. Her article, A Compelling Case Against the Carnivore Diet offers a formula to calculate your ideal protein needs.
Knowing how much protein is optimal for your body’s needs can help guide the rest of your meal planning. With ancestral diets, in particular, it’s easy to discover that you’re actually eating too much protein. When you tailor your protein intake to your body’s needs, it frees up more space for other nutrient-dense foods, like healthy fats and high-fiber vegetables and fruit.
In the same way that carbohydrates can be portrayed as inherently negative, protein is often chalked up to be good no matter what. But balance between macronutrients creates the best nourishing diet to meet your body’s needs.
Today’s Simple Step
You can use the formula found in this article to figure out your body’s protein requirements. Tracking your protein intake can also be helpful. You can do this by writing down everything you eat in a food journal, noting portion sizes and types of food, or it can more easily be done via a food tracking app (like MyFitnessPal or Cronometer). At the end of a day, you can see your macronutrient breakdown to discover what percentage protein contributes to your daily food intake.
These Lamb Chops are a classic ancestral dish that provides 25 grams of protein from a 4-ounce serving, along with all essential amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and nourishing levels of B12, zinc, and selenium.
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