Tired of the mixed messages revolving around protein? Here is a brief breakdown on how this essential building block of a healthy body plays a role in your well-being and a couple protein myths set straight.
The Benefits of Protein and Why Your Body Needs It
Protein plays a crucial part in many processes in the body. It helps to keep cells healthy, create new ones and make antibodies responsible for fighting off illness and infection. It also fuels the energy needed to carry oxygen throughout the body.
Satisfying these vital bodily functions isn’t all protein has to offer. It aids in food digestion through enzymes and in hormone regulation, especially during puberty. There are also many fitness benefits from eating high-protein foods. It curbs hunger, reduces muscle loss, builds lean muscle and facilitates recovery from an injury or after intensive exercise.
Debunking Protein Myths
There are a lot of untrue things being said about protein. Below are two common protein myths and explanations to help set the record straight.
- Only meat, eggs and dairy have protein. While these are fantastic sources, they are not the only ones. Nearly every food we consume contains protein to a varying extent. There are two categories of protein: incomplete and complete. What’s the difference? Incomplete proteins, such as beans, nuts, grains, vegetables and seeds, have some of the necessary essential amino acids but not all nine. Complete proteins include the items listed at the top but also other foods such as quinoa and soy. These foods contain all nine essential amino acids needed for the body to fully function and remain healthy.
- Vegans and vegetarians aren’t getting enough protein. Not true. Individuals who refrain from eating meat and dairy miss out on great sources of complete protein but that doesn’t mean they can’t get an adequate amount of the essential amino acids from incomplete sources. Through a well-balanced diet, they can combine and take in enough variety to get all nine essential amino acids.
Being Proactive in Your Health
Unfortunately, staying healthy and eating well doesn’t come in a neat, one-size-fits-all package. However, it’s important to include protein in your diet, exercise regularly and omit unhealthy food choices to live life to the fullest.
For a list of high-quality protein sources as well as other protein myths, please see the accompanying resource.
Author bio: Dr. Myur S. Srikanth is a board-certified bariatric and cosmetic surgeon at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery. He has been performing bariatric surgery exclusively since 2000 and has performed over 4,000 weight loss surgeries. Dr. Srikanth performs nearly every operation that is currently available to treat obesity.
This infographic was created by the Center for Weight Loss Surgery, a duodenal sleeve