The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
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.
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
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet's plan calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank," using $1 trillion in federal spending to "catalyze" $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.
When Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.
Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.
By Andrea Germanos
Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.
By Tara Lohan
It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.
Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.