Unique protein sources

Unique Protein Sources

Most of us know protein is an important part of our diet, but many of us may be uncertain why protein is so vital. This article will give some background on what protein is, why we need it, how much we need, and review protein-rich foods (the obvious and not so obvious).

Our bodies use three nutrients to provide energy; carbohydrate, fat and protein. Protein is needed to build, maintain and replace tissues in our body. Our muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein.

Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. When protein is completely broken down (into amino acids), each gram provides 4 calories of energy. The protein in the food we eat does not become body proteins directly. Rather, the protein supplies the amino acids from which the body makes its own proteins.

How much protein do I need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.36 grams per pound of body weight).

Example: a person who weighs 160 pounds needs approximately 58 grams of protein per day (160 x 0.36 =57.6)

Protein rich foods

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts/tree nuts

How much protein is in the food I eat?

  • 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish: 7 g protein
  • 1 cup milk: 8 g protein
  • 1 ounce cheese: 7 g protein
  • 1 large egg: 6 g protein
  • ¼ cup peanuts/tree nuts: 6 g protein

How much protein is in unique protein rich foods?

  • Venison (Deer)- 100 gram serving: 116 calories, 0 g carb, 21.5 g protein
  • Sesame seeds- ¼ cup serving: 206 calories, 8 g carb, 6 g protein
  • Quinoa- ½ cup, cooked: 111 calories, 20 g carb, 4 g protein
  • Low fat Plain Kefir- 1 cup: 110 calories, 12 g carb, 11 g protein
  • Non-fat Greek Yogurt- 6 oz: 100 calories, 7 g carb, 18 g protein
  • Edamame- ½ cup shelled: 120 calories, 13 g carb, 11 g protein
  • Pumpkin seeds- ¼ cup: 71 calories, 9 g carb, 3 g protein
  • Flax seeds- 1 tablespoon: 55 calories, 3 g carb, 2 g protein
  • Chia seeds- 1 oz: 138 calories, 12 g carb, 5 g protein
  • Hemp seeds- 3 tablespoons: 166 calories, 3 g carb, 9.5 g protein
  • Lentils, cooked- ½ cup: 115 calories, 20 g carb, 9 g protein
  • Hummus- ¼ cup: 102 calories, 9 g carb, 5 g protein
  • Tofu, firm- ½ cup: 98 calories, 4 g carb, 11 g protein

Nutrition facts label

  • Protein is a required nutrient on the Nutrition Facts Label (listed below sugars grams)
  • It is displayed in grams

Protein and diabetes-some additional things to consider:

  • In a state of insulin deficiency (with resultant persistent hyperglycemia) the body will start to break down protein for energy. This can result in muscle loss.
  • Protein assists with insulin release (in a person that still produces their own insulin).
  • Protein helps keep you feeling fuller longer and may aid in weight loss efforts.

Want to learn more? Check out the following articles available at Type2Diabetes.com:

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