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Proteins: The Building Blocks of Life

Have you ever wondered what makes up your muscles, skin, and hair? Or what helps to regulate your blood sugar levels and immune function? The answer is proteins! Protein is one of the three macronutrients that the body needs to function properly, along with carbohydrates and fats. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, maintaining muscle mass, supporting a healthy immune system, regulating hormones, and improving mood and reducing stress.

Man with protein food.

Proteins are essential macronutrients that play a vital role in many bodily functions. They are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of life. There are 20 different amino acids, and proteins are made up of different combinations of these amino acids.

There are two main types of proteins: complete proteins and incomplete proteins. Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, which the body cannot produce on its own. Incomplete proteins contain some but not all of the essential amino acids. To get all of the essential amino acids, it is important to eat a variety of protein sources throughout the day.

While many people associate protein with only animal products, there are many excellent plant-based sources of protein available. The food industry has been compromised to paint this misleading notion through the media. In fact, plant-based proteins offer a number of advantages over their animal-based counterparts, including:

  • Lower saturated fat and cholesterol: Plant-based proteins are generally lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than animal-based proteins. This can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.

  • Higher fibre: Plant-based proteins are also typically higher in fibre than animal-based proteins. Fibre is important for digestive health and can also help to lower cholesterol levels and promote weight loss.

  • More sustainable: Producing plant-based protein requires fewer resources and produces fewer greenhouse gases than producing animal-based protein. This makes plant-based protein a more sustainable choice for the environment.

Health Benefits of Proteins.

Protein for Strong Muscles and Bones

Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue. When you eat protein, it is broken down into amino acids, which are then used to build new muscle proteins. This is especially important for people who are active or who are trying to build muscle mass.

Protein for Stable Blood Sugar Levels

Protein helps to regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates. When you eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates and low in protein, your blood sugar levels will spike and then crash. This can lead to feelings of hunger, fatigue, and irritability. However, if you eat a meal that is balanced in protein and carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels will rise more slowly and remain stable for longer.

Protein for a Strong Immune System

Protein is also important for immune function. Antibodies, which are the proteins that help to fight off infection, are made up of amino acids. When you don't get enough protein, your body may not be able to produce enough antibodies to fight off infection.

Protein for Weight Loss

Protein can also help with weight loss. Protein is filling and can help to reduce appetite. Additionally, protein helps to boost metabolism, which can help to burn more calories.

Dietary Sources of Protein:

Animal Proteins:

Animal proteins are complete proteins, meaning that they contain all nine essential amino acids. Good sources of animal protein include:

  • Meat: Chicken, beef, pork, lamb

  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey

  • Fish: Salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp

  • Eggs

  • Dairy products: Milk, yoghurt, cheese

Plant Proteins:

Plant proteins are scientifically categorised as incomplete proteins, meaning that they do not contain all nine essential amino acids. And this is not limiting because plant foods are more beneficial to the body. However, you can still get all of the essential amino acids by eating a variety of plant proteins. Good sources of plant protein include:

  • Legumes: Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, and soybeans are excellent sources of protein and fibre.

  • Whole grains: Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, wheat, millet, and oats are good sources of protein and complex carbohydrates.

  • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds are good sources of protein, healthy fats, and fibre.

  • Soy products: Soy products such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame are good sources of protein and calcium.

  • Fruits: Some fruits such as avocado, banana, apricot, jackfruit, guava, kiwi and peaches are rich in essential amino acids that make up useful protein in the body.

Protein: the building block; sources

How Much Protein Do We Need?

The recommended daily intake of protein for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, the optimal intake of protein varies depending on individual factors such as age, activity level, and health status.

For example, people who are very active or who are trying to build muscle mass may need more protein than people who are less active. Additionally, people with certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, may need to limit their intake of protein.

Choosing Healthy Protein Sources.

When choosing protein sources, it is important to focus on lean protein sources, such as beans, lentils, kidney beans, seeds and nuts, mutton, dairy, chicken and fish, for non-vegetarians. Lean protein sources are low in saturated fat and calories. Additionally, it is important to limit processed meats and high-fat dairy products. Processed meats are often high in sodium and saturated fat. High-fat dairy products are also high in saturated fat and calories.

Protein is an essential nutrient for overall health and well-being. Choosing healthy protein sources can help to improve body composition, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Here are some additional tips for choosing and incorporating healthy proteins into your diet:

  • Include a variety of protein sources at each meal. There are many different types of protein sources available, so choose a variety to keep your diet interesting. This will help you to get all of the essential amino acids. This will help you to spread your protein intake throughout the day.

  • Choose lean protein sources, such as beans, seeds, nuts, fish, lentils, and tofu.

  • Limit processed meats and high-fat dairy products.

  • Prepare your proteins in healthy ways, such as grilling, baking, or steaming.

  • Pair your proteins with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to create a balanced meal.

  • Make sure to get enough essential amino acids: Not all protein sources contain all nine essential amino acids. To make sure that you are getting enough essential amino acids, choose a variety of protein sources.

By following these tips, you can easily ensure that you are getting enough protein in your diet without sacrificing your health or taste buds.


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