I often get asked about whether we are getting enough protein in our diets and thought I would give you some insights…
Protein is an essential macro nutrient, which our bodies need for repair work and making all those hormones too! With having Endometriosis, I certainly want loads of repairing going on and also ensure I have all the necessary hormones to do everything my body needs. This is why you also need more protein if you are building muscle or working out lots. Those muscles need to repair and proteins do this work for us!
So, are we getting enough?
What are some of the usual sources of protein?
Typically, we are told to get proteins from meat, fish, eggs and dairy, but for many of us these foods are hard to digest and create more inflammation within the body. They generally contain about 15–25% protein. I do know that changing to more organic and grass-fed versions often alleviates many of these symptoms but they are still more work for your body to process and hey, we need our energy for other things!
Why are they recommended?
The body takes individual building blocks (amino acids) to make up proteins. It can take them from one food source or group a whole bunch together. Typically, animal-based proteins contain all of the nine essential amino acids in one place, which makes sure we are getting them. They are called essential amino acids and yes, they are essential for our health and well-being.
The good news is that we don’t need to get all of our essential amino acids from one meal or one protein source. We can combine a whole bunch of foods together and make up the nine essential amino acids that our bodies need. (American Dietary Association, 2009)
Protein Source ideas to explore:
Here are some sources of protein, along with their average amount of protein per 100g.
- Spirulina – 60g (go Spirulina!)
- Nutritional yeast – 52g
- Sacha inchi powder – 63g
- Pea protein – 80g
- Pumpkin seeds – 30g
- Dulse seaweed – 29g
- Cacao powder – 26g
- Bee pollen – 24g
- Sunflower seeds – 23g
- Tahini – 20g
- Chickpeas – 19g
- Wakame – 18g
- Chia seeds – 15g
- Maca root powder – 14g
- Quinoa – 14g
- Amaranth – 14g
- Buckwheat – 13g
- Goji berries – 12g
Even those dark leafy greens contain protein! Spinach came in at 3 grams and collard greens too!
As an interesting comparison…
A 100g piece of chicken breast contains 31 grams of protein and a piece of lamb contains 25 grams. Eggs contain 13 grams in 100 grams worth of eggs.
What do I do?
Personally, when I look at this list, it is pretty much what I eat most days. I have a smoothie with many of these ingredients and use a lovely egg white based protein powder instead of the pea protein—just personal preference. I also love my chia seed puddings!
I do strongly encourage women to really get into their seaweeds though! As you can see, they are a life safer and contain fabulous amounts of protein and being plant-based, they are super easy to absorb.
Though I am not vegan or vegetarian, I don’t make meat or animal products a big feature within my meals. They are more like the little addition on the side but certainly not the main focus of the dish. I also tend to avoid really heavy dark meats like beef and game. I also do eat more organ meats as they tend to give you much more nutritional properties than standard muscle meats. Try things like chicken livers, chicken giblets and calf’s liver! I have a nice recipe for a liver curry in the Nude Food recipe book, which you can get free when you purchase the Eat Endo Happy recipe book http://eatendohappy.com/
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What should you do?
Look at your need for protein and try to source it from different sources. Though animal products certainly have their benefits, plant-based sources offer heaps more on other nutritional scales. Think of all that folate and vitamin B in Spirulina, for instance!
If you are working out loads, preparing for a baby or are recovering from surgery, then you certainly need your army of builders to be fully ready… so get exploring and try some new ways of eating protein!
What is your favorite source of protein? Do you drink smoothies? Eat seaweeds? Meats and animal products? Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts below…