Protein provides the amino acids that the body needs to synthesize its own proteins, hormones, antibodies, enzymes, muscle tissue and maintain an acid-alkali balance.
Essential amino acids are very important as our body cannot synthesize them on its own, so we must obtain from food.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) has people consuming way too much protein, especially of the animal kind, which can lead to many complications.
Over consumption can create low energy, constipation, dehydration, lethargy, heaviness, weight gain, sweet cravings, tightness or stiff joints, acidity, kidney function decline (stress required to process excess proteins), foul body odor, halitosis (bad breath) and calcium loss to compensate for acidic environment in body (calcium is an alkalizing mineral and is leached from the bones when there is too much acidity present).
On the other hand of the spectrum many vegans and vegetarians do not consume enough protein which can result in sugar cravings, jitteriness, fatigue, weight loss, weakness, anemia, depression, and mood swings.
The key is always experimentation as some people do better with animal food protein while some will function well using vegan sources. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for protein consumption is as follows:
- Infants 7m to 1yr, 11 grams
- Children 1 to 3, 14 g
- Children 4 to 8, 19 g
- Children 9 to 13, 34 g
- Teens, 46-52 g
- Adults, 46-56 g
- Pregnant and lactating women, 71 g
Remember that depending on the time of year or how much activity you are doing your protein needs will shift, use the numbers above as a ballpark. If you know you are protein deficient a therapeutic dose of 60-80 grams a day for several weeks can be beneficial to recharge your system.
Keep in mind that the chart below is very conventional but gives an idea of protein sources and their amounts.
Although animal foods are high in protein it is vital to consume them in moderation and keep in mind the impact of factory farms on animal welfare, the environment and human health.
If you are wanting to increase protein from vegan sources explore these high quality protein powders (most plant based and one whey).
One FINAL NOTE...there is a MYTH in the world that as soon as your work out you need to load up on protein...FALSE its simply not true.
The body breaks down protein at a very slow rate. After movement the body uses glycogen aka carbs and simple sugars first so you can consume your protein anytime of day and it will be there to support.