Protein plays a fundamental role in our overall body health and wellness. It helps with weight control and in building, maintaining and repairing muscles. Studies have shown that a meal high in protein can help you feel fuller longer, which helps further with weight management. But how much do we really need? It could be more than you think! The “average” adult according to the European Food Safety Authority – needs 0.83g of protein per kg of body weight. However, this level increases with the level of activity undertaken. that protein’s dietician, Orla Walsh, says that active adults and those training should consume between 1.2g to 1.5g protein per kg of body weight per day depending on the level of intensity of the exercise. It is considered safe to consume up to 1.6g protein per kg of body weight per day. Many people may not know that Pregnant women require additional intake of 1g, 9g and 28 g per day for the first, second and third trimesters respectively and Breast-feeding women need an additional intake of 19g per day during the first 6 months and 13g per day thereafter. Infants, children and adolescents require between 0.83 g and 1.31 g of protein per kg of body weight per day depending on age. If you are a vegetarian or vegan you may find getting enough protein more of a challenge simply because there are fewer protein sources available and less “grab and go” availability. So, what does protein DO for us? At the most basic level protein is needed for every cell in the body – so to be healthy and well and to have the best possible body, skin, hair, nails you must get the correct amount of protein every day. Muscles are made of protein and protein maintains, repairs and builds muscle. The more muscle you have the faster your metabolism goes and a healthy metabolism is key to lowering body fat and maintaining a healthy body fat percentage which is beneficial for our health throughout our lives. If you are active, a protein shake or adding protein to a smoothie after activity will help repair muscles and replenish the body. A great choice is that protein 2in1 Plant Protein Super Foods as the range also contains not only organic plant protein but added nutrition like vitamin C for reducing tiredness and fatigue and supporting a healthy immune system. Don’t forget that muscles are not just located externally but also internally; e.g. the heart is a muscle. Our muscles are constantly breaking down and repairing and they need protein for fuel and repair. Without adequate protein the body will stop functioning at optimum level and illness could follow. So is that all we need to know? Not quite. Firstly, all proteins are not equal. Some will come with attendant saturated fat (think e.g. red meat, or cheese) and other sources can be highly processed, contain artificial ingredients or be high in refined sugars. Secondly, some proteins are not complete proteins. That means they do not contain all the essential amino acids the body needs every day to be healthy and well but can’t make itself. These are: Leucine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Methionine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine. As the body can’t make these amino acid we must get them from our food. Finally, it’s not just the amount of protein we need to be aware of but also when we need to consume that amount. The body can only process and utilize so much protein at one sitting so key to protein consumption is to spread it evenly across the day. So… to make sure you are getting your protein consumption right, why not take this mini protein challenge with 5 easy steps? Start in the morning by working out how much protein you need to eat that day based on the above reference intakes, your lifestyle and your exercise levels. Write down in a notebook how much protein you actually consume that day. Consider the kind of protein you are consuming and how that fits with your lifestyle and health priorities e.g. is it organic? Is it low in saturated fat? Free from chemicals and additives? Free from refined sugar? Lactose free? Vegan? You decide! Be aware of when you are consuming your protein and if you are having it throughout the day – don’t just add up the total amount of protein – it must be taken throughout the day. Conclude if you are getting your protein intake right or need to make changes. Consuming the right type and the right amount of protein for your lifestyle and exercise level at the right time will ensure you support your total body health and wellness and help you attain your fitness and weight management goals.