Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

6 Things You Need to Know About Protein

Food

We hear all the time that we need protein in our diet to grow, stay strong and healthy, build muscle and control our metabolism. And that's a fact. Most of our body consists of protein, and protein is one of the three essential major nutrients, along with carbohydrates and fats, that we need in our diets. But how much and what is the best way to get it?

Many things contain protein and it's good to eat a wide variety of them. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Here are a few things to know about protein in your diet.

1. We used to hear that we need lots and lots of protein and you can never have too much. That's just not true. Obviously, the amount you need varies with your size and level of activity. You don't need a big farm-style breakfast because you're not going out to milk a herd of cows and feed pigs and chickens. If you've got a desk job, 0.4 grams a day per pound of body weight should be fine, more if you're looking to increase endurance and as much twice as much if you want to build muscle mass.

2. It's hard to get too much. You may have heard some of the scare stories about stress on body functions caused by trying to handle too much protein. That's not true if you don't have as medical condition that might impact how your body processes food and you eat quality protein sources. The biggest risk is focusing on protein-rich foods to the exclusion of other nutrients you need. A balanced diet consisting of a variety of foods is always best.

3. You need protein if you're trying to lose weight. Since protein is essential in regulating metabolism, trying to cut corners here isn't going to pay off. Dieters should cut carbs and fat rather than protein to maintain muscle mass. And because the body uses more energy to burn protein you'll burn more calories. Plus there's evidence that protein makes you feel fuller so you eat less.

Protein supplements aren't essential for most people but they can be useful if you know what you're getting.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

4. You probably don't need a protein supplement if you eat that balanced diet of high-quality food mentioned above. A protein powder can be a useful dietary supplement but you'll want to do some research and learn what you're adding to your food, since they aren't regulated. Make sure you don't get one that's high in sugar or other sweeteners to enhance its taste, and for pete's sake, mix it with a quality drink, not soda or a sugary canned punch.

5. Protein itself doesn't build muscle mass. You won't look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime by consuming a lots of protein and sitting on your couch watching reality TV, even if the show is about bodybuilders. Getting your own bod to the gym is what builds muscle. But protein supports that growth and helps you maintain those new muscles you go from—sorry!—working out.

6. No, you don't have to eat meat to get the protein you need. This has been lobbed at vegetarians and vegans since forever, and with more of them around these days, it's gotten annoying. Many non-meat foods have lots of protein, although if you're a vegan, you'll have to avoid one of the best—eggs. But beans, nuts and many vegetables also contain protein, though not in the concentrated amounts you find in meat sources. As always, variety is best and quality is essential. Fast food, with protein or not, isn't your best food source.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Health Benefits of Eating Mushrooms

Teen Fights for a Fast Food-Free World

5 Reasons to Love Eating Eggs

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

More than 1,000 people were told to evacuate their homes when a wildfire ignited in the foothills west of Denver Monday, Colorado Public Radio reported.

Read More Show Less

Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. mixetto / E+ / Getty Images

Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. New research has found that 5.4 million Americans were dropped from their insurance between February and May of this year. In that three-month stretch more Americans lost their coverage than have lost coverage in any entire year, according to The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
Heat waves are most dangerous for older people and those with health problems. Global Jet / Flickr / CC by 2.0

On hot days in New York City, residents swelter when they're outside and in their homes. The heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be fatal.

Read More Show Less
Nearly 250 U.S. oil and gas companies are expected to file for bankruptcy by the end of next year. Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

Fracking companies are going bankrupt at a rapid pace, often with taxpayer-funded bonuses for executives, leaving harm for communities, taxpayers, and workers, the New York Time reports.

Read More Show Less
Trump introduces EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler during an event to announce changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Jan. 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. The changes would make it easier for federal agencies to approve infrastructure projects without considering climate change. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

A report scheduled for release later Tuesday by Congress' non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Trump administration undervalues the costs of the climate crisis in order to push deregulation and rollbacks of environmental protections, according to The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, voiced support for safe reopening measures. www.vperemen.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA

By Kristen Fischer

It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Critics charge the legislation induces poor communities to sell off their water rights. Pexels

By Eoin Higgins

Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.

Read More Show Less