Protein is a vital part of a healthy diet. As part of a healthy balanced diet it can help you gain lean muscle and develop a reliable metabolism. The main function of protein is to repair damaged muscles, which could occur after workouts, and help grow lost muscles. It can be confusing to work out what you should and shouldn't eat to get the most amount of nutrients that your body needs. Once you have an idea about what you can eat, and how much, you will find it easier.

 Protein food sources

Protein is usually found in meat, dairy products, seafood and fish. Red meat such as pork, beef, fatty fish, chicken and lamb are all good sources for protein. Beans, nuts and lentils are a meat free alternative source of protein and are usually the first choice for vegetarians and vegans.

Protein rich foods are most found in high fat foods. To add protein to your diet in the healthiest way you will need to regulate the amount you consume. Try not to eat fried chicken, instead opt for skinless grilled chicken. If you prefer to eat pork, avoid sausage rolls and Salami, which have high salt levels, instead have small portions of grilled sausage. The same rules apply for other types of protein rich meat. Cook the meat in a healthy way and you will benefit more from the use of protein. Nuts are high in fat so limit the amount you eat. A small handful is enough to give you a satisfactory amount of protein.

Dairy products are easy to add to your diet and are a good protein source. Drink skimmed milk or low fat yogurt over their full fat alternatives. If your someone who doesn't eat dairy products, have soya products instead. Those are made from soya beans which contain a high amount of protein. That makes soya milk a great option for people who can't have dairy milk.

Soya beans are also made into cheeses and yoghurts, so you can still get a high amount of protein from foods that don't contain dairy.

If you find it tedious to check what foods you should eat, each day, buy some protein shakes. Obviously they are high in protein so all you would need to do is drink one shake a day to get all the protein your body needs. Protein smoothies/shakes can be found in health food stores. Always check to see if there are any added ingredients. Generally they will have some sort of flavouring and possibly other added nutrients.

question markHow much protein do you need?

Protein requirements are different for everyone. It can vary depending on your height, weight, gender and age. First you need to find out how much you weigh in kilograms. Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. Now remember the number, because you will need to eat 1 gram of protein for each kilogram that you weigh.

Something to remember

Too much protein is bad for you. In fact, medical professionals have often said that consuming more protein than your body needs can be counter productive and lead to kidney disease. The body does not use all the protein that you have eaten. It only uses whatever it is that it needs, so remember to eat the amount that your body requires daily and no more than that.