If you’ve been trying to lose weight, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about protein and how healthy it is for you. This is because proteins are the building blocks of all the tissues and cells in the body. It is also one of the three major macronutrients that make up a person’s diet.
Proteins are made up of substances called amino acids. There are 22 different types of amino acids that the body requires in order to have the proteins it needs to function well.
The body is able to make 13 of them by itself—these are called non-essential amino acids—but the other 9 must be taken in with the food you eat and are known as essential amino acids.
There are two main types of proteins:
Complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids. Most complete proteins are found in animal products, like meat, fish, poultry and dairy products. There are also a few meat-free complete proteins for people who prefer to avoid animal products.
Incomplete proteins are foods that do not contain all of the essential amino acids required by the body. Combining two incomplete proteins (like beans and rice) will also give you a complete protein source.
The following table shows some examples of the different types of proteins.
|Complete Proteins||Incomplete Proteins|
Eating a wide variety of plant-based proteins is important for vegetarians and especially for vegans. While vegetarians will be able to get complete proteins from dairy products and eggs, vegans will not. In addition to combining multiple protein sources throughout the day, soy products may be another way to get in enough protein throughout the day.
If you are concerned about the amount of protein that you are able to eat over the course of your day, there are many protein powers available that can quickly be mixed up to add in extra protein. Protein powders made from whey (which comes from dairy) or soy protein are good sources of complete proteins. Brown rice protein and pea protein are also plant-based proteins, but are not complete protein sources on their own. A protein powder that has both brown rice and pea proteins is a good source of all the essential amino acids.
If you’re struggling with figuring out how to add in extra protein to your meals, here are a few suggestions.
Protein is an important part of your diet. Give these suggestions a try or ask your Medifast Weight Loss Counselor for some more ideas!