You know that protein is an important part of your diet, but which protein is best for you? Red meat? Fish? Whey? Soy?
Traditionally, when we think of our bodies using protein, we think of bulging muscles – but building muscle is not everything protein can do!
Proteins make up around 17% of your body. The walls of cells, the machinery inside them, the neurons in your brain – these are all made of protein, and they all need to be built in a very specific way. Even your DNA is made from recycled protein!
Athletes have been eating high-protein diets for thousands of years. Recently, production of powdered whey protein (pioneered by Frank Thomas in the 1970s) has led to the invention of infant formula, protein fortification of baked goods, and the development of protein powders. The supplementation of athletes’ diets with extra protein is an area of great debate – experts and athletes alike question which proteins are best, why, and for whom.
Turns out professional athletes are right – eggs and whey are some of the best sources of protein.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that men eat 1.98oz / 56g of protein per day, while women should eat 1.62oz / 46g. That protein should make up 10-35% of your daily calories. This figure refers only to the pure protein in any whole food.
If you are extremely active or do intense training, you may want to increase this amount either by eating more protein based foods or supplementing with purified protein powder. Don’t overdo it, though. Too much protein can cause bone health problems and renal function issues.
In order to work out which protein is best for your body, there are a few basic questions you need to ask: which protein-based foods fit within your chosen diet, your lifestyle, and activity levels, and which protein does your body tolerate well?