When it comes to protein, most of us assume we’ve got it nailed – just eat a steak now and then and you’re good to go, right? But how often should you be tucking in, and why is this food group so important anyway?
According to nutritionist and P3rform performance coach Lily Chapman, protein is essential to help restore muscles, enhance bone health, boost immunity and regulate hormones. And it’s especially important for women – who often don’t get enough. The good news is that if steak isn’t your thing (and you’re conscious of the health risks associated with too much red or processed meat), there are plenty of other ways to up your intake, from lean sources such as chicken or fish to plant-based options such as nuts and lentils. Dairy products can also be a good choice, from a glass of milk to a protein-packed yoghurt like Lindahls.
Need more inspiration? Here, Chapman explains the top four reasons to pack in the protein, along with some tips on how to do it…
1. Protein gives us tons of energy
‘Every gram of protein equates to around four calories of energy,’ Chapman explains. And because protein is slower to be broken down by the body than carbohydrate, it’s a longer-lasting energy source (good news for those on the go). According to the British Heart Foundation, most adults need around 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight each day (that’s 45g for someone weighing 9st 7lb), which equals roughly two palm-sized portions of protein. ‘I’d recommended more if trying to gain muscle or during the menopause (when you can lack energy),’ says Chapman.
2. It helps us feel fuller for longer
‘Because of the time it takes to digest protein, those following a high-protein diet may find that energy dips are a thing of the past,’ says Chapman. So, without the need for quick fixes like chocolate, high-protein, low-sugar snacks like a Lindahls Protein Pudding or KVARG yoghurt pot are a tasty way to seamlessly deliver extra protein into your diet (all while tasting like a treat).
3. It’s essential for keeping bones in tip-top shape
Did you know bone tissue is made up of around 50% protein? ‘It’s why consuming sufficient protein to support the rate of bone turnover is essential,’ Chapman explains. ‘In addition, protein has also been shown to increase IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) production, a hormone involved in the formation of bone. For females, it’s really important to maintain bone health in order to protect ourselves from the detrimental effects of bone-density loss that can come with declining oestrogen levels as we age.’
4. And did we mention #gains?
Desperately seeking definition in 2023? Guess what’s about to become your new BFF! ‘Protein is an essential component of our muscle tissue,’ says Chapman. ‘Within our bodies, there’s a continuous breakdown and re-synthesis of protein, whether to provide energy or allow adaptive changes. Consuming adequate protein, therefore, helps supply essential amino acids to enable this cycle.’ Let us translate: your body can’t build bigger, strong muscles if it’s protein deficient. An easy fix to boost your intake is to have a high-protein snack – something like a Lindahls Pro+ KVARG yoghurt drink – right after a workout.
EASY WAYS TO BOOST YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE:
- Swap ‘regular’ snacks for protein snacks. ‘This could be a Lindahls KVARG protein yoghurt, boiled eggs on toast or almond butter and banana.’
- Spread intake throughout the day. ‘Rather than focusing on one meal, aim for 20-30g of protein every three to four hours.’
- Start early. ‘Many people miss out on protein at breakfast. It’s the most satiating macronutrient, so aim to eat it first and you might need less of the other stuff.’
- Consider supplements. ‘While we should prioritise whole foods, vitamins are a good way of supplementing diets.’
When it comes to nailing your protein goals, add some Lindahls into your day. Try the range from your local supermarket or visit lindahls.co.uk