Protein is an essential macronutrient that your body needs to function properly. Protein works to build and repair muscles and bones, assists with making hormones and enzymes, serves as an energy source, and so much more. While protein is found in each and every cell in your body, we need to get protein from our diets to ensure we have an adequate supply for our daily functioning.
We all know that meat is an excellent source of protein. Whether you’re opting for steak, chicken, or even turkey, meat is packed with protein. But a diet packed with meat can also become unhealthy, which is why it’s important to know other sources of protein so that you can get this important macronutrient while maintaining a healthy diet. In this blog, we’re taking a closer look at some surprising sources of protein.
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What is Protein?
We’ve all heard the word before, but have you stopped to actually identify what this is? Protein is found throughout your body and is truly essential for a functional body. Protein is a macronutrient that is made from over twenty amino acids. Protein can be found in your skin, muscles, bone, and hair, and forms the enzymes that power many chemical reactions occurring throughout your body each second.
Why is Protein So Important?
Simply enough, protein is essential for survival and an active, healthy lifestyle. Without sufficient protein in your diet, it would be nearly impossible to have a healthy and functional body. But even though we hear it all the time, do you know exactly why protein is so important? Well, just keep reading and take a look:
- Building block: protein is an essential building block for your body. Protein plays a key role in building bones, muscle, skin, and cartilage. Even your hair and nails are comprised primarily of protein.
- Repair: in addition to working as a building block, protein is also essential to help your body repair itself. Protein enables your body to repair tissue so that you can recover from injuries or even just the ordinary wear and tear of daily life.
- Digestion: when you consume protein (regardless of the source), a large percentage of this goes into making enzymes. These enzymes are critical for many reasons as they work to make new cells and aid in food digestion.
- Oxygenate: your red blood cells contain a specific protein that works to carry oxygen throughout your body. Providing oxygen to your brain and other major organs is essential and helps you get the proper nutrients.
- Regulation: additionally, protein plays a very important role in regulating your hormones. This is especially important during puberty.
5 Surprising Sources of Protein
While meat is a common and effective source of protein, it certainly isn’t the only one. Additionally, there are many reasons why individuals would want to cut back on the amount of meat in their diets or cut it out altogether. A diet with too much meat can lead to significant health problems, including high cholesterol and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Below are five alternative ways to load up on protein without loading up on meat.
- Soy Beans: In recent years, soy products have exploded in popularity. In fact, soy is the basis for many of those new alternative “meats” you’ll see in the supermarket. Whether eaten as soy beans themselves, tofu, or tempeh, soy beans are packed with protein. One cup of soy beans adds up to roughly 20 grams of protein. As such a versatile option, soy beans are becoming a popular source of protein.
- Peanut Butter: Here’s a delicious addition to our list that’s also a solid source of protein. Just one tablespoon of peanut butter contains about 5 grams of protein. Another great advantage is that peanut butter can be utilized in a lot of different ways. Try a PB&J or peanut butter-banana smoothie.
- Milk: More than just a great source of calcium, milk can also give you a protein boost. A glass of milk can be a great way to get B vitamins, amino acids, and protein. A cup of low-fat milk will provide roughly 9.5 grams of protein. Add some to your coffee or a bowl of cereal in the morning for a convenient and tasty source of protein.
- Potatoes: Add some spuds to your diet for another convenient source of protein. Just one average-sized potato offers up four grams of protein. And as you know, there’s simply so much you can do with potatoes to include them in your diet.
- Yogurt: An easy and delicious snack, add some yogurt into your diet for an extra portion of protein. Just about two-thirds of a cup of yogurt can provide you with over 12 grams of protein. Just like potatoes and soy beans, there’s lots of different and convenient ways to get yogurt into your diet.
Conclusion – 5 Surprising Sources of Protein
Getting enough protein in your diet is absolutely essential for a healthy, active lifestyle. But what do you do if you’re trying to cut down on meat while also ensuring you maintain a balanced diet? Luckily, there are many additional sources of protein—some of which might surprise you—to help you maintain a healthy diet.
In addition to your classic meats, there are many other ways to get the protein your body needs. Try adding some soy beans, peanut butter, yogurt, or even chia seeds into your diet. By exploring alternative sources of protein, you can give your body the macronutrients it needs while sticking to a healthy diet.
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