Proteins are complex molecules that play a number of vital roles within the body. They are essential for:
- Repairing cells
- The growth and maintenance of various tissues, including the skin, bones, and muscles
- Hormonal processes
- Immune system support
The Health Benefits of Protein
Studies have shown that eating healthy proteins can lower your risk of developing diseases including diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It can also help you lose weight, because it makes you feel full and reduces appetite.
Foods That Contain Protein
Proteins are available in two primary forms: complete and incomplete. Complete proteins are sourced from animal products like meat, poultry, dairy and fish. Incomplete proteins are sourced from foods like beans, nuts, seeds, tofu rice and vegetables.
If you’re vegetarian, you’ll need to carefully balance your diet to ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids you need. You may need to talk to your physician, registered dietitian or nutritionist about taking supplements.
How much protein you need varies depending on your age, weight, gender and current health. If you have certain diseases or conditions, you'll need to work with your doctor to figure out if a high-protein or low-protein diet is best for you. For example, if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), getting enough protein is essential. But so is avoiding an upset stomach.
To learn more about how much protein you need, talk to your physician, registered dietitian or nutritionist.