Protein is a macronutrient that provides the body with energy and also commonly known to help repair our muscles after a tiring workout session in the gym. There are many questions surrounding protein as there are many different types of protein and information circulating on the internet. If you do not have a nutritionist or personal trainer to guide you, fret not ! In this article we will be explaining more about the different varieties of protein (animal and plant based protein), the purpose that each type of protein serves and how much protein should we consume in our diet.
1. Animal Based Protein
Animal based proteins can be easily obtained from the food that we consume everyday such as meat, and even whey or casein protein after an intense workout. Most animal based protein contain all 9 essential amino acids. There are a total of 20 different kinds of amino acids and they are being categorized into two different groups:
Non essential amino acids - produced naturally by our body.
Essential amino acids - not produced naturally by our body and have to be obtained from food or supplementations.
Meat such as chicken, beef, lamb, pork and fish are great sources of animal based protein. However, certain types of meat such as red meat (Pork, beef and lamb) have been linked with increased risk of developing heart diseases, so do consume them in moderation. It is highly recommended to choose leaner options like lean ground beef. Alternatively, white meat (fish, chicken and turkey) are also great sources of protein which are also leaner cuts of meat, lower in saturated fats and high in omega 3 (cold-water fish) which helps to promote heart health.
Whey is a byproduct of cheese making. It is commonly consumed by gym goers after their workout session as whey protein is found to have benefits for muscle repair and growth. Whey protein is able to be digested more quickly and also absorbed faster by our bodies to aid in the repair of muscle tissues. This is highly recommended for athletes and people who engage in resistance training or exercise. Whey protein is also a convenient source of protein immediately after a workout, as you can simply make a protein shake within a minute
Casein, similar to whey, is also another byproduct of cheese making. However, one main difference about casein is that the rate of absorption of casein by our body is at a slower rate than whey. Casein protein provides our body with a slow, steady release of amino acids, hence making it ideal for instances where you will be fasting for a prolonged duration such as during our sleep.
2. Plant based protein
Plant based protein is a great source of protein for vegans or vegetarian who are unable to consume meat or dairy products. However, most plant based proteins are considered as incomplete protein, as they do not contain all 9 essential amino acids. Nevertheless, by eating different kinds of plant based proteins together, you would still be able to create the same effect. Some great sources of plant based proteins are chia seeds, tofu, whole grain bread, quinoa, oats and lentils.
Soy protein comes from soy beans and they also acts as a good source of carbohydrates and fats that we can include into our diet. Soy also helps to increase calcium absorption by our body which is beneficial in reducing loss of bone mass. Therefore when combined together with resistance exercises, it can further strengthen our bones ! In addition, the consumption of soy protein can also lower your bad cholesterol levels (LDL), which helps to reduce the chances of heart disease drastically.
Another source of plant based protein is pea protein and it is derived from extracting green and yellow split peas into a powder form. This is also another alternative source of protein that vegetarians and vegans could consume to fulfil their daily protein requirements. Pea protein is rich in iron which is an important mineral that women require due to their menopause cycle. In addition, pea protein is also a great source of arginine, an amino acid which helps to improve our blood circulation and heart health.
In conclusion, it is important to include protein in our diet as they are essential for repairing our muscles. As we age, especially past 40, we may begin to lose 3-5% of muscle mass per decade, a condition also known as sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is also the main culprit behind fractures and falls among the elderly. Therefore, by consuming adequate protein and exercising regularly, this can help to combat sarcopenia. Also, a very frequent question that people wonder is how much protein should one consume on a daily basis ? In general, we should strive to consume 1g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, and 2-3g per kilogram if you are looking to build some muscles.
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