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The Power of Protein

Do you experience 3pm energy slumps? What about after-dinner munchies? Or maybe you’re struggling to move forward in your workouts? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, the answer may be as simple as looking at the protein you’re eating throughout the day.

Why is protein important?

All nutrients play an important role in our health and protein is no exception. Protein plays crucial roles in almost all systems of the body including:

  • Immunity > if we don’t get enough protein, we’re more likely to catch an illness and stay sicker for longer.

  • Muscles > if we don’t get enough protein through food, our body starts taking it from our muscles and we lose strength. In comparison, eating protein regularly throughout the day helps us build muscle and carry out day-to-day activities (for example, lifting that 3-tonne basket of washing!)

  • Mental Health > protein-rich foods - like red meat, nuts, and dairy - help to make neurotransmitters which send messages throughout the brain and help us manage our emotions.

If that is not enough to win you over, we digest protein slower than other nutrients meaning after we eat a protein-rich food, we stay fuller for longer and our energy levels are more stable: In other words, less 'hanger' and need for afternoon naps.

Which foods are rich in protein?

There are five main types of foods which will give you the biggest bang-for-your-buck in terms of protein:

  • Dairy > milk, yoghurt, cheese (particularly cottage or ricotta cheese)

  • Legumes > chickpeas, lentils, beans

  • Meat > red meat, chicken, fish

  • Eggs

  • Nuts and seeds

How much protein should we have each day?

Everyone is different in terms of how much protein their body needs, but a good rule of thumb is to start off with aiming for a protein-rich food at every main meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If you’re doing a strength workout or notice you’re especially hungry between meals, you may want to include a protein-rich food as a snack between meals also. Some people may also require a protein supplement to top up their oral intake. Conversely, there are certain conditions in which you may benefit from a limited protein intake - so it's best to seek individualized advice.

If you’re not sure what the right amount of protein is for you, book in with one of our friendly dietitians. We individualise our advice based on your health history, age, gender and goals to calculate the right amount of protein for your body and discuss delicious ways food can help you meet those goals!

In the meantime, why not try our Blueberry Nutty Porridge for a heart-smart and protein-rich start to your day? Our Teriyaki Salmon Bowl also packs a delicious protein-punch as a dinner option. Enjoy!


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