Protein Facts: by Dr. Nathan Servey, your local Victoria, MN Chiropractor
Updated: Mar 30, 2021
The word "protein" is latin for "of first importance". That's a pretty bold statement. Indeed proteins are large molecules composed of amino acids which are the "building blocks" of our bodies. If our body is a building, amino acids are the bricks. When people think of protein, they usually think of muscles... and while that's very true, protein is vital for everything from proper brain function to heart health and proper digestion.
Have you ever heard the saying, "You are what you eat"? The truth is, the type and quality of proteins we eat determine the amino acid selection and quality that are available to synthesize hormones, create essential molecules, and form structures. The majority of Americans get "enough" protein, however a lot of that protein is of poor quality coming from highly-processed meats, soy, and dairy sources.
How much protein do I need?
It depends who you talk to. There is not a true consensus around what the best amount is. The general rule-of-thumb is to take your body-weight in kilograms and divide it in half... that is how many grams of protein you should be getting per day. Some people say you should be eating more than that, others say less. I tend to focus on quality and diversity over quantity. In my opinion, if you regularly workout, are under increased stress, are growing, or are recovering from an injury you should be consuming more protein.
For example, I weigh 180lbs which is roughly 82kg which means I should be consuming around 41g of protein per day. I also lift weights regularly. I aim for around 50g of protein per day.
Where should I get my protein?
The key with protein (and most of nutrition) is diversity and quality. Good sources of protein include minimally processed seafood, beans (especially black beans), nuts, seeds, organic eggs, leafy greens, lentils, bone broth, and organic, minimally processed meats. Don't be one of those people who eats nothing but tuna from a can and cheap, frozen chicken breasts. Eat a variety of plant vs. animal sources. Eat a variety of meats. Eat different types of nuts and seeds.
What about protein powders?
For some people, getting enough protein can be a challenge. This is especially true for athletes, vegetarians, and older individuals. This is where protein powder can be helpful. Most protein powders contain between 15 - 25g per serving which can be a large portion of your daily protein needs. Again, QUALITY IS KEY! Do NOT skimp for cheap, sketchy protein powders. They can be laden with heavy metals such as mercury as well as other chemicals. Instead, choose lab-tested and reputable protein powders. I am a proponent of cycling through powders. For example, right now I'm using the Standard Process Chocolate Vegan Protein pictured below. After that, I'll probably switch to a quality whey protein.
PS: Most people tolerate "whey" very well. People who have issues with dairy usually are sensitive to the casein, not the whey. Whey is extracted from the milk and does not contain casein.