Why protein is important
There are tens of thousands of different proteins in your body. Every one of them consists of a unique combination essembled from a list of only 20 possible amino acids. The body can produce 11 of these amino acids by breaking down and combining molecules already present in the body. These are called the nonessential amino acids. However, the other 9 amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body and thus must be ingested from food. These are called the 9 essential amino acids.

Protein provides structure to connective tissue, muscles, hair, fingernails, bones, teeth, ligaments, tendons, skin, eyes, blood cells and other organs. The transporters that move molecules in and out of cells are made of protein. Proteins are often needed to activate these transporters. Hormonal proteins regulate body processes. They stimulate growth, and regulate blood pressure, blood sugar levels and water balance across cell membranes. Some proteins regulate your sex drive, cause your sexual organs to grow, and regulate your menstual cycle. Enzyme proteins facilitate the transformation of one substance into another. They break down nutrients so your body can absorb them. Proteins are the building blocks, the messengers, and the work horses. We could go on and on...

High protein diets are bad for you with quick results that don't last. You may lose weight quickly, but the weight you lose will come from water and lean tissue, not from fat. Rapid weight loss exposes your body to toxins. Water is an essential nutrient for eliminating toxins from the body. How will your body cope when it has a high toxicity and less water to deal with it? This is why high protein diets can be damaging to your health and even dangerous. Once you go off the high-protein diet and start eating healthy, well-balanced meals you will regain a significant amount of weight.

Sources of proteins

First of all to supply your body with all the protein it needs, you must consume protein, digest the protein into amino acids, absorb the amino acids into the body and synthesize new proteins by linking together amino acids.

The best sources of protein
Complete proteins contain a proper amount of all the essential amino acids and some of the nonessential amino acids. These proteins provide the best mixture of amino acids to fuel efficient protein synthesis within the body. Complete proteins are obtained from eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, other dairy products, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish, other meats, or soy products. As you can see, only one plant, soy, provides complete proteins. The animal derived proteins offer the additional benefit of providing iron, zinc, and B vitamins. In addition the meats offer omega-6 fatty acid. Although all these foods provide the best source for amino acids, the animal derived complete proteins offer the most nutrients.

Other sources of protein
Incomplete proteins do not contain sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins are found in legumes, nuts, seeds, hummus, peanut butter, casher butter, certain vegetables, wheat, rice, corn, and other grains. To stay healthy, you need to aquire those missing essential amino acids from other foods. One easy way would be to add complete proteins from animal products or soy product with incomplete protein from plants. If you are a vegetarian, you need to eat a variety of protein rich plants to acquire all the essential amino acids. By combining legumes with grains you can acquire all the essential amino acids. Beans and rice, supply all essential amino acids. The peanut butter and whole grain bread in a P & J sandwich supplies all the essential amino acids as well.

Foods and protein content

Food Grams of protein
8 oz. Milk 2% 8
1 oz. Cheddar cheese 7
1/2 cup Ice cream 2.5
1 egg 74
1 oz. Poultry 34
4 oz. Beef 32
4 oz. Fish 30
1 oz. Lamb 29
1 oz. Pork 25
1/2 cup Tofu 20
1/2 cup Soybeans 14
1/4 cup Peanuts 10
1/2 cup Beans 8
2 tablespoons Peanut butter 8
8 oz. Soy milk 7
1/2 cup Peas 4
1 cup Flour 13
1 Bagel 7
1/2 cup Pasta 4
1 slice Bread 3
1/2 cup Oatmeal 3
1/2 cup Cold cereal 1 to 3
1/2 cup Rice 2
1/4 cup nuts 6
1 tablespoons Sunflower seeds 6
1 tablespoons Sesame seeds 2
Fruits and Vegetables  
Potatoes 5

How much protein should you eat.

Percentage of daily calories
The National Academy of Sciences recommends...

  • 10 to 15% of your daily calories from protein
  • 55 to 60% of your daily calories from carbohydrates
  • no more than 30% of your daily calories from fat

Fad protein diets suggest taking a lot more protein. some diets recomend aquiring up to 50% of your daily calories from protein and severely limiting your intake of carbohydrates. These diets are dangerous. The weight you lose will come from lean tissue and bone. You will increase your risk for heart disease and kidney failure. High protein diets are not recommended.

The Meat, Dried Beans and Nuts Group provides you with the majority of your protein. For this food group, the Food Guide Pyramid recommends the following servings.

  • 2.5 daily for teenage girls
  • 3 daiy for teenage boys and vigorously active teenage girls.

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