Protein – Are We Getting Enough

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about Protein and that many of us may not be having anywhere near as much as we need especially as we age and for women going through menopause. Now this is just my thoughts but I think a bit like ‘fat’ being demonised – good fats that is – protein particularly meat, that has ‘fat’ marbled through it or has skin (like chicken) has led some to think to reduce it. But protein comes in many forms and is required to build our muscle and bones.Protein is a nutrient your body needs to grow and repair cells, and to work properly. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that link together in different combinations. Your body uses them to make new proteins, being bone and muscle and other compounds such as enzymes and hormones. It also uses them as an energy source.

Here are 5 ways you can add protein to a meal!

  1. Eggs – typically seen as a breakfast staple can be eaten anytime of the day.
  2. Meat, Fish, Shellfish – beef, lamb, chicken, salmon, prawns – add some to your lunch and dinner but keep to a smaller portion ie palm size
  3. Plant & Paleo Protein like Pea Protein, Legumes – chickpeas and tofu or a good quality protein powder
  4. Dairy – milk, yogurt (plain no sugar added), cheeses
  5. Seeds and nuts – tahini, sesame seeds, peanut or almond butter, walnuts, almonds etc
Some signs that you may not be getting enough protein are,
  1. Fatigue & Tiredness – over time this may occur, particularly as we age (55+) lack of protein can decrease strength and can lead to anemia where your cells don’t get enough oxygen and can make you tired.
  2. Muscle Loss – whilst your scales may not show it your muscle mass declines and you are not feeling as strong and your body maybe retaining its fat stores.
  3. Brittle hair and nails – over time your hair may become brittle and notice ridges on your nails
  4. Hunger – yes protein fuels you and helps you feel fuller for longer
  5. Getting and staying sick longer – Amino acids in your blood help your immune system fighting off, bacteria, and toxins. You need protein to digest and absorb other nutrients to keep you healthy.
  6. Oedema – build up of fluids in feet and ankles
Remember always best to check with your allied health practitioner as it could be something else, never hurts to have a visit.