Protein has become the new ‘must have’ in food trends. Food producers have been highlighting the presence of protein with specialized labels and marketing campaigns.
New weight loss programs and diets have focused on the health benefits of protein. Fortunately for dairy lovers, dairy products have always been an important source of protein. Why are so many products jumping on the protein bandwagon? What’s the big deal about protein? Here’s what you need to know.
The Importance of Protein
When you eat protein rich foods, they are broken down into amino acids, and absorbed by your small intestine. Your liver filters out the amino acids you need and disposes of the rest. Your body uses protein for growth and repair. It helps build bones and muscle, makes antibodies, blood, hair, and other essential body components.
According to research, nearly half of the older adults in the United States have sarcopenia, a loss of muscle mass and strength due to the aging process. To offset this condition, researchers say, adults should aim for an average of 30 grams of protein with each meal.
Sources of Protein
Proteins provide eight amino acids for the human body. While you can find protein in a wide variety of food, not every protein source is enough to supply what you need.
There are two different types of proteins: complete and incomplete. Complete proteins are the ones found in animal products: dairy (milk, cheese, eggs), meat, fish, and poultry. Click To TweetPlant-based proteins are considered incomplete, because they are lacking in one or more amino acids.
Protein should be one portion of everyone’s daily food intake. To ensure you get the recommended amount of protein every day, you can’t simply “eat more meat”.
While meat is an effective source of protein, dairy and plant-based proteins can be a healthier choice, but what other nutrients do you need? Consider the overall nutritional value of the foods you’re eating. Determine the carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients of your food before embarking on a food plan to increase your protein.
Protein in Dairy
Dairy products offer four ways to get protein: whey, yogurt, cheese, and milk. These products are an excellent source of complete proteins and have multiple health benefits. Protein is an effective tool in weight loss, as protein helps curb your appetite. Whey can be part of a workout recovery program, added to protein bars, smoothies, or sports drinks. If you’re looking for an easy way to add protein to your diet, it doesn’t get any easier than adding dairy.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The amount of protein you need varies, based on your age, weight, and level of physical activity. Individuals younger than 65 can determine their protein needs by multiplying their weight by 0.4.
Over 65? Multiply your weight by 0.6. Bodybuilders and professional athletes require more protein than the average individual to compensate for a higher level of activity. Online calculators can help you determine your ideal protein intake or speak with your health professional for personalized insights.
How can you use dairy to add protein to your life? Pick up your favorite dairy products and enjoy, confident that your choice is not only delicious, it’s healthy!
Sarab Hans is President of Hans Dairy