Eating a balanced diet is the best way to reduce your risk of disease, maintain good health and a strong immune system. A balanced diet includes foods from five groups that fulfill all your nutritional needs. The five food groups are vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy. I’ll be breaking down the Healthy Eating Guide across the five food groups starting here with protein.
Protein is a nutrient your body needs to grow and repair cells and to work at its optimal level. Protein is found in a wide range of foods and it’s vital that you get enough protein in your diet every day. How much protein you individually need from your diet varies depending on your weight, gender, age, and health. Meeting your protein needs is easily achieved from eating a variety of foods.
Below is a guide to the recommended daily intake of protein depending on your age, weight and gender. Go to the National Health and Medical Research Council to view a full breakdown including recommendations for pregnant and lactating people.
- Chicken or turkey breast
- Fish and seafood
- Lean pork
- Lean beef
- Nuts: almonds, macadamia, cashews, peanuts and mixed nuts
- Legumes: peanuts, chickpeas, beans, peas, lentils and lupins
- Beans: kidney, black beans, navy, pinto and cannellini
- Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin and sesame
- Dairy: greek yoghurt, milk, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and feta
- Grains: oats and quinoa
- Vegetables: broccoli and brussel sprouts
- Protein powder: whey, soy, pea, brown rice, and hemp seed
- Soy protein: edamame, tofu, tempeh and soy nuts
- Vegan protein: meat alternatives
Protein is a critical part of the processes that fuel your energy and carry oxygen throughout your body in your blood. It also helps make antibodies that fight off infections and illnesses and helps keep cells healthy and create new ones. Proteins are made up of chemical ‘building blocks’ called amino acids. Your body uses amino acids to build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes. Protein is also an energy source.
Adequate protein consumption speeds up recovery after exercise and/or injury and helps to build lean muscle. It can also help maintain a healthy weight by boosting metabolism, increasing fat burning and curbing hunger. However, very high protein diets are not recommended and the best way to stay healthy is by adopting a balanced approach.
Next week I’ll be releasing the Vegetable section of the Healthy Eating Guide.
Get in touch with me for a detailed plan tailored to your specific dietary needs and requirements.