Protein is the building block for all that is living. The human body requires protein for over 1000 different activities, most of which are for revitalisation of tissue, enzymes and fluid including all bodily functions. Protein is absolutely the most essential macronutrient required by the human body. Most proteins sources have an element of fat which is also an essential nutrient. Not all proteins are the same and nutritionally, proteins vary significantly from one source to another. For protein to actually formally be classified as ‘protein’ it technically needs to contain all of the essential amino acids therefore making it complete. Not all proteins are complete and and this can lead to a false sense of adequate nutrition. Incomplete protein, if consumed in the absence of complete protein, will lead to malnutrition affecting nearly every single bodily function. Vegans need to be aware that in order to source complete proteins from their foods, a combination of vegetables are required to be consumed at the same time. As an example, rice protein is incomplete as it does not contain all of the essential amino acids. Pea protein is identical in that sense. By combining both rice and pea protein you are in fact consuming complete protein which is exactly what the body requires. Proteins from vegetables do not sit high on the bio-availability chart (degree of nourishment required from protein) however whey protein sits at the very top of the available protein which is able to be digested and used by the human body (this is another way of explaining bio-availability). Other high sources of complete protein include:
- All meats
- Chicken and poultry
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy products including cheese, yoghurt, casein and milk
Whey protein powder is absorbed and digested at a much quicker rate than other proteins. Red meat can take up to 24 hours for you to gain the benefit from the amino acids contained in it. White meat, 6-8 hours. Second to Whey protein are eggs. Eggs have a high bio-availability and also contain a number of other benefits including a number of vitamins, folate and choline. Don’t skimp on your essential protein. In whatever way you are getting your protein intake, you should be consuming it on a daily basis to gain maximum benefit. Understanding the benefits of protein and enjoying its consumption is important. Like anything else, the more we enjoy and understand something, the more likely we will continue to make it a priority.