Guest post by Dr Joanna McMillan, for Australian Eggs.
The structure and function of our bodies rest on important molecules called proteins. Dietary protein is an essential macronutrient that the body and cells need to function properly. Made up of amino acids, protein aids in the regulation of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs.
But did you know that not all proteins are created equal? The higher the quality of protein, the better the balance of amino acids present and the easier it is for your body to digest and use. We know that animal proteins are more digestible than plant proteins, which results in greater amino acid availability assisting with things like maintaining muscle strength, repairing wounds, fuelling your energy by carrying oxygen throughout your body and promoting appetite control.
Animal proteins include things like eggs, meat, fish, poultry and dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. A great way to up your daily protein intake is add an egg to any meal or snack. Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality affordable protein coming in at only a few cents per egg. They are also one of the highest quality proteins available. Adding just one serving of eggs to any meal or snack that provides 20% of the recommended daily intake of protein for men and 27% of the recommended daily intake for women. Plant proteins can be found in foods such as legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and wholegrains.
When thinking about upping your protein intake throughout the day, it’s best to think about how you can include a source of protein that can act as an ‘add on’ to your meals, rather than only thinking about getting your main protein hit at dinner time. Most of us don’t eat enough protein for breakfast and then tend to eat too much at our evening meal. A few ways I suggest incorporating protein throughout the day is to add two boiled eggs or a handful of nuts to your mid-morning snack or add a tin of tuna to your salad, or even tossing through some cannellini, borlotti or black beans to your lunchtime dish.
A few affordable foods that I suggest keeping on your shopping list that are sure to help you hit your protein threshold without hurting your wallet include things like; eggs, rolled oats, nuts, legumes such as lentils and soybeans as well as yogurt, tofu, halloumi, and canned tuna.
For those who adhere to a vegetarian diet, it’s important that you not only distribute your protein intake throughout the day, but also ensure you are consuming a variety of high protein foods to help you obtain all the essential amino acids from your diet. If you’re looking for meal options that don’t contain any animal products, include beans, lentils, tofu and higher protein grains such as quinoa and oats – all affordable options and by combining a good mix of plant proteins you’ll obtain all the essential amino acids needed for a healthy diet.
If you need some extra inspiration for high protein meal plans, you can head to the Australian Eggs website where they have a dietitian and nutritionist approved high protein 7-day meal plan.