Protein is one of the 3 macronutrients (carboydrate, fat, and protein). We can get protein from many foods but it is rich in meat, fish, dairy, and good vegetable sources are beans pulses and grains.
We need protein for growth, repair and immunity. It forms all our tissues, structures, cells and enzymes and hormones. Yes, it’s really important!
We NEED 1g protein, per Kg of our own bodyweight per day. So I’m about 64kg, I need 64g of protein daily. That equates to an egg on wholegrain bread, a tin of tuna for lunch, and a piece of chicken or fish in the evening plus a few nuts in between. Your protein intake should be spread throughout the day; the timing doesn’t really matter but it would be difficult to get enough daily, if it wasn’t a feature in all your meals. Check food labels, or use a calculating app like MyFitnessPal (or Google) to find out what g of protein is in the foods you are eating. For example, you buy 250g of raw chicken, 2 chicken breasts, it’s not 250g of protein. There is about 29g of protein in a typical chicken breast. Water, and other components make up the rest.
I would urge you to calculate how much protein you eat on a typical day, to get an idea. It would be tricky, to get your daily quota of protein if you didn’t have some with every meal. Its not just meat eggs and fish though…use vegetable sources too, some breads even are quite high, or yoghurt, and it’s easy to achieve your daily target when a feature in all your meals and snacks.
Protein, does not build muscle! The only way to gain lean mass is to train your muscles. So eating protein, in excess to gain muscle tone is not effective. You do need it though to repair tissue damage which we all experience from training.
A final important note, consuming protein with carbohydrates steadies the rate at which blood sugars rise. As well as feeling fuller for longer this stabilises energy, cravings, and delays the storage of carbs as fat. I often see clients who lack protein at breakfast, start to get overwhelming sugar cravings in the afternoon; and once protein intake is improved early in the day the desire for sweet ‘pick-me-up’ foods is back in control. A seriously good reason, to check your protein intake and get it right.