What does our body need Protein for?

Proteins are the building blocks of life!

  • The body needs Protein to repair and maintain its self.
  • It is the chief component of the skin, muscles, organs, and glands.
  • It is important for growth during, childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.
  • Protein is used to transport molecules (for example haemoglobin transports oxygen)
  • It is required to help repair cells and make new ones (tissue repair).
  • Protein is a major component of the muscles.
  • Skin and bone both contain collagen which is a fibrous protein.
  • Protein is required for vision.
  • And antibody proteins are needed for the immune system.

All proteins are made of building blocks called amino acids and there are 20 of these in total. There are 3 types of Amino Acids –

  • Essential
  • Non-essential
  • Conditionally Essential


9 of the 20 amino acids are considered to be essential because the body is unable to make them itself. We need to eat the essential amino acids for the body to be able to make the non-essential acids.

Non-Essential Amino Acids

These are made by the body from essential amino acids. They are also present in food but are not essential to the daily Diet.

Conditionally Essential

These are also present in many foods but are not always required as part of the daily diet.

As long as we absorb sufficient amounts of the 9 essential amino acids, the liver is able to make the other conditionally essential Acids. However, at certain times of life and to certain population groups these essential Acids do need to be supplied to ensure good health!

Sources of Protein

Some sources of Protein Include  –

  • Turkey and chicken (without the skin)
  • Lean cuts of beef or pork
  • Fish and shell fish
  • Pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, and garbanzo beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Tofu, tempeh, and other soy protein products

So how much protein is in each product?

  • 30g – Chicken breast (100g boneless and skinless)
  • 24g – Turkey breast (3oz)
  • 23g – Beef steak (3oz)
  • 23g – Salmon/tuna (3oz)
  • 23g – Greek yoghurt (8oz)
  • 20g – Shrimp (3oz)
  • 14g – Cottage cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 13g – Dried lentils (1/4 cup)
  • 20g – Tofu (1/2 cup)
  • 8g – Edamame (1/2 cup)
  • 8g – Quinoa (1 cup)
  • 6g – Egg (large)
  • 6g – Mixed Nuts (2oz)

How much Protein should I eat?

The amount of recommended daily protein depends on your age and health. Two –  three daily servings of protein-rich foods will meet the daily needs of most adults.

Another guideline is to use your weight. The recommendation is also to eat 1-2 grams of Protein per KG of body weight per day.

For example, if you weigh 80kg, Its recommended a minimum of 80g of protein and no more than 160g if you are doing a lot of muscle building intense exercise.

When it comes to exercise the following guidelines apply –

  • Sedentary adult  0.8g/kg
  • Recreational adult   0.8g – 1.5g /kg
  • Adult endurance athlete  1.2 – 1.6g /kg
  • Growing teenage athlete 1.5-107g/kg
  • Adult building muscle mass 1.5 – 1.7g/kg
  • Estimated upper limits 2g/kg

 How do I reach my daily requirements?

Protein requirements can be reached by consuming complete, incomplete and Complimentary Proteins.

Complete Proteins

These foods contain all nine essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. Most of these are animal-based foods. There are a number of plant-based complete proteins, but the density of essential amino acids is generally higher in animal-based proteins.

Examples Include  –

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa

Incomplete Proteins

These are usually lacking one or more of the essential amino acids so need to be combined to make complete proteins. Plants generally contain smaller concentrations of protein, making it more difficult in ingesting enough solely from plant produce.

Examples Include  –

  • Vegetables
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barly
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • lentils
  • peas
  • nuts

Complementary Proteins

For many years Nutritionists have advised vegetarians to vary or combine plant-based protein sources to boost amino acid intake. This may help to provide a full spectrum of the essential amino acids in the Diet.

Appropriate variations or combinations include –

  • Rice and pulses
  • Vegetables and seeds
  • Nuts and vegetables
  • Grains and pulses

Remember it is advisable that roughly 30% of your diet is protein based. It’s a good idea not to become obsessed with the exact amount of protein we eat. Have a play around and work out what makes your body feel good!