Dietary protein is the source of amino acids that our body uses for maintenance, growth and repair. It can also provide us with energy (remember; 1g of protein contains about 4kcal) and keeps us feeling fuller for longer (due to the slow rate at which it is digested compared to, for example, simple carbohydrates). More obvious sources of protein include meat, eggs and dairy products. However, there are also plenty of plant-based sources of protein, including nuts, seeds, lentils and beans. My advice would be to try to eat a range of sources so as to maximise your chances of getting all of your 9 ‘essential’ amino acids (those that your body can’t make on its own and therefore need to come from your diet).
I train regularly; do you recommend protein supplements?
The short answer I’d give to most people is; no, I don’t. This is because, if you are taking on enough calories (which, if you are training regularly, should be higher than the average person for your gender, age etc.), you will already be getting the protein you need from your diet. However, there are some exceptions; for example, if you are vegan you are more likely to struggle to meet your protein requirement and so this is where a supplement, such as pea or hemp protein, may give you the boost you need to meet this. However, you cannot beat a healthy, balanced diet and so I’d always recommend you look at this first and get some advice on how to optimise your protein intake using wholefoods. Remember, I currently offer individually tailored 7-day meal plans and dietary consultations. If you’d like to know more, or to request any of these services, contact me at email@example.com.