Proteins 101 with Two Hungry Work Wives
Protein comes in many different forms, from animal derivatives to plant-based. Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, 8 of which are essential for us to get from our food sources. The remaining are produced by our body, so it is not necessary to always consume them from food. Amino acids and protein are commonly referred to as the building blocks of life. Protein, when digested, is broken down into these amino acids, which each have specific functions. In general, they are used for repairing tissue, digestion of food, and growth. General recommendations for protein intake is 56g for the average sedentary male and 46g for sedentary females. Our body uses the most energy to digest protein compared to all other macronutrients. This means diets higher in protein can help our body to burn more calories throughout the day.
Quality of protein does matter when it comes to our body’s function. Animal sources of protein are meat/poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. These sources contain all 8 of the essential amino acids our body needs to survive, which is why they are considered the highest quality protein sources. They contain the most bang for your buck calorie-wise, as a 3oz serving of chicken has approximately 110 calories and 24g of protein. It is suggested to have diets rich in lean poultry and fish while limiting red meat. Eggs are a great source of protein, as well as B vitamins. They are one of the quickest and easiest ways to incorporate high-quality protein into your diet.
Animal sources aren’t for everyone, though, and there is definitely a shift to eating a more plant-based diet. Plant-based protein sources include legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), nuts, and seeds. There are also foods such as tofu and tempeh, which are derived from soy. Quinoa, though considered a grain, is the only plant-based source of protein that also contains all 8 essential amino acids. For those who eat only plant-based sources, it is recommended to eat a variety throughout the day to make sure the body is getting all 8 essential amino acids to prevent deficiency. Plant-based proteins also pack a large amount of fiber, making them great for our digestive system as well as keeping you full for hours. Unlike meat or poultry, these sources can be bought in large quantities for lower prices, making them a great staple to have on hand.
Every week the menu at Grateful Plate changes, but one thing is consistent, there is always a variety of protein options to choose from to meet all needs. The great thing about the menu is being able to mix and match a variety of protein sources in your meals throughout the week. For those who eat both animal and plant-based sources, we recommend choosing their Citrus and Thyme Salmon, the Italian White Bean Stew, and the Za’atar Seared Chicken. We feel that it is important that even if you do eat meat, sometimes you should choose plant-based options as well for overall gut health. For those who follow a strictly plant-based diet, we suggest the Moroccan fava bean soup, the Vegan Tofu Lasagna, and the Spring Wild Rice Salad. This gives you variety in the plant-based sources you are choosing, which helps you to meet all your essential amino acids needs as mentioned previously. Not feeling anything on the main menu? Now there is the option for a la carte proteins to make your own meal! This is a great new option that allows you to be in control of what your meal is. We love this idea! While this is just an example of one week’s menu selections, know that every week there will be various protein options to choose from, making Grateful Plate an excellent choice for meal delivery service.
About Two Hungry Work Wives
Liz Smith, MPH, RD, CNSC and Melissa Bailey, MS, RD, LDN make up Two Hungry Work Wives; Two Philly-based registered dietitians, self-proclaimed work wives navigating the food world one forkful at a time.
Sign Up for our Weekly Menu Email!
Never miss a week of our Meal Delivery Menu by filling out the fields below. Menus are mailed out each Wednesday with reminders on Saturday.