Protein for Your Fitness and Health
Protein plays many roles in your body and is essential for health at every age. So, it’s not surprising that protein is so popular these days!
Become a protein pro
Protein plays a number of key roles in supporting your health and every cell in your body depends on it. It helps to:
- Promote childrens’ optimal growth and development;
- Maintain healthy muscles and bones in adults;
- Facilitate muscle recovery after a workout;
- Repair body tissues after an injury;
- Form antibodies and support a healthy immune system.
Since our bodies aren’t designed to store excess protein, we need a regular supply. So, it’s a good idea to eat some protein with every meal in order to meet your body’s needs.
Protein is found naturally in a number of foods: meat, poultry, fish and seafood, milk products, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds. Protein foods, along with vegetables, fruit and whole grains, are nutritious foods that form the foundation for healthy eating that Canada’s Food Guide recommends we consume on a regular basis. Protein foods should make up a quarter of your plate, according to Canada’s Food Guide.
Protein from animal sources: “complete” protein
Protein found in milk, yogurt and cheese is considered a “complete protein.” All animal-based foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese contain complete protein. Complete protein provides enough of all nine essential amino acids in the right proportions. These amino acids are considered ‘essential’ because your body cannot make them. On the other hand, plant-based protein, found in most legumes, nuts and grains, for example, are deemed “incomplete.”
Variety promotes health
A diet that includes a variety of protein foods matters, because it provides us with the various essential nutrients we need for our overall health. For example, fatty fish, such as salmon and trout, contain valuable omega-3; red meat is especially rich in iron and zinc that is easy for the body to absorb; milk products are an important and reliable source of calcium and other key nutrients essential for bone health; and legumes and nuts are fabulous sources of fibre in addition to other nutrients. That’s why it’s important to include a wide variety of protein foods in your everyday diet.
Did you know?
Dairy’s unique source of protein and well-absorbed calcium along with a host of other bone-building nutrients, make these foods particularly effective at providing the needed nutrients for achieving optimal bone health.
Protein: An ally for active lives
Eating enough protein is important to help build and maintain healthy muscles. Protein helps repair muscles after intense physical activity and stimulates muscle development after training.
A tasty snack! Fruit smoothies are so easy to prepare at home and take no time at all. All you need is naturally nutritious ingredients like fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt (if you want to create a thicker version) and a splash of milk. Best of all, when you make a fruit smoothie at home, you can control the amount of sugar you add to the beverage. Looking for post-workout protein ideas? Try our green mango tango smoothie
Protein and your appetite
Protein plays a key role in promoting satiety, the feeling of fullness you get after you eat. A meal or snack that provides enough protein will help satisfy your hunger for a longer period of time. On the other hand, not eating enough protein may leave you feeling hungry, which could lead you to snack more and reach for treats and less nutritious foods – another good reason to eat enough protein with your meals and snacks.
Protein…all day long
Does your breakfast keep you full until lunch? Do your energy levels tend to “crash” in the middle of the afternoon? Do your snacks contain enough protein? Here are a few satisfying recipe ideas that are sure to tickle your taste buds:
- Start the day off right with a delicious oven-cooked omelette the whole family will love: Roasted broccoli mushroom mozza frittata.
- Enjoy a colourful smoothie bowl before heading to work: Blueberry smoothie bowl.
- Fuel up on energy at lunch with an Italian-inspired sandwich: Super easy chicken parm.
- Always round out your salads with a source of protein, as in this delicious Pasta and edamame salad.
- Increase your protein intake by topping off desserts with Greek yogurt.