River Wissey Lovell Fuller

The Power of Protein - Building Blocks of Life! by Mel Bailey

February 2013

It seems everywhere we look someone is promoting a new diet that praises the power of protein. But whether you want to lose or gain weight, or maintain your current weight, the importance of protein goes far beyond physical appearance and muscle building.


Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. It is an organic compound, composed of 22 amino acids, otherwise known as the building blocks of life. Protein is stored in muscles and organs, and the body utilises it to build and repair tissues, as well as for the production of enzymes and hormones.

Protein also makes it possible for blood to carry oxygen throughout the body. Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning the body needs relatively large amounts of it. A deficiency can impair important body functions and will cause loss of muscle mass, and as 1lb of muscle burns 14 calories compared to 2 calories per 1lb of body fat its simple to see why we want muscle and not fat in our bodies. It is also the basis of good hair (keratin), nails and skin so if your nails are flaking maybe look at source of protein!


The widespread popularity of high-protein diets is due in large part to their ability to help manage hunger.

When protein is absorbed, it sends a signal to the brain to decrease your hunger. Another benefit of protein is that it maintains muscle mass, which is known to increase metabolism. If we neglect to exercise as we age, muscle mass decreases, so staying fit is a key to burning fat by keeping your metabolism high.

Protein also leads to a much less rapid rise and fall of blood sugar and insulin, so you avoid the “sugar highs and lows” that you might experience after eating sweets without adequate protein. Certain foods, however, provide a healthier resource for protein than others.

Red blood cells only live 120 days so must constantly need to be replaced and the uses protein to make the red blood cells or we can become anaemic.


You can obtain healthy sources of protein without high levels of saturated fat. For example, soybeans, nuts and whole grains provide protein without much saturated fat and offer plenty of healthful fibre and micronutrients, here are a few sources that are available to us.

Egg whites - 7 whites = 25gm of protein

Yougurt average pot = 14g protein

3oz beef = 25g protein

4oz turkey = 25g protein

prawns/crab/lobster = 22-24g protein

Ocean fish 4oz = 25/31g protein

veggie burger (depending on brand) 5-20g each

lentils 8oz = 17.1g protein

cottage cheese 250g = 34.5g protein

So how much do we need in real terms? below is a table for the average perosn in each group, but everyone is an

individual and may need more depending on their circumstances, on avaerage 20-40% of the diet should be of proteins again depending on individuality:

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein

 Grams of protein needed each day

Children ages 1 – 3


Children ages 4 – 8


Children ages 9 – 13


Girls ages 14 – 18


Boys ages 14 – 18


Women ages 19 – 70+


Men ages 19 – 70+


To help you make lower-fat protein choices —

  • Choose meats that are leaner cuts and trim away any fat you can see. For chicken and turkey, remove the skin to reduce fat.
  • Substitute pinto or black beans for meat in chilli and tacos.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free cheese.
  • Choose egg whites or pasteurized egg white products

This way you will achieve your protein goals, stay healthy and keep those fats in check!

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