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How Much Protein Does Your Body Need?

Enjoy a Delicious, Protein-Packed Dessert Recipe

Photo by Janine Robinson on Unsplash

Enjoy a Delicious, Protein-Packed Dessert Recipe

Protein Requirements

Everyone has a different need for protein relative to her, his, or their individual biochemistry. Some of us need more protein than others. However, during times of stress protein is even more essential. Protein-rich foods support growth and repair in the body, as muscle tends to break down under stress. A broad approach to calculating protein needs is to identify the optimal daily ratio of protein. This is about 0.5 grams of protein for every pound of lean (muscle) body mass. A person with 20% body fat mass has 80% lean mass. So for someone who weighs 200 pounds, the lean mass is 160 pounds. To determine the protein requirement, divide 160 by 2.2, which converts pounds to kilograms, resulting in 72.7 grams of protein. 

Protein requirements increase if you are doing vigorous exercise, or if you have been ill. Women generally need less protein. People who eat the SAD diet (standard American diet) tend to overconsume poor-quality protein at nearly twice the amount that is necessary, while vegetarians tend to under consume proteins. Both approaches are problematic for mental health. 

Animal or Plant Protein?

Protein from animal foods have better amino acid profiles than plant proteins; they have higher amounts and proportions of the essential amino acids. Another challenge in vegetarian diets is the failure to consistently combine proteins that have complete amino acids and this leads to deficits in neurotransmitter (NT) synthesis.

It is important to address both quality and quantity when determining protein requirements. Eggs are a perfect protein and provide about 5 grams of protein per egg, the equivalent of a handful of nuts or seeds. Milk and yogurt provide about 10 grams of protein per cup (milk products are best eaten raw and unpasteurized). Beans, cottage cheese, and tofu each provide about 15 grams of protein per cup. Meat, chicken, and fish provide about 25 grams of protein per 3- to 4-ounce serving.

Satiety

Proteins along with vegetables are also part of the satiety complex. Proteins such as nuts, seeds, and whey, along with greens, cruciferous vegetables, and root vegetables, all promote satiety which is important especially when making dietary changes and in hypoglycemia, compulsive and night eating disorder, and bulimia. Raw almonds are an ideal food to eat as a snack or at the start of a meal. This may underlie the wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine that suggests eating 10 raw almonds a day for brain health and relaxation. I can think of no simpler daily habit to support brain health and relaxed life.

Protein Deficiency

Insufficient protein intake is not always the problem; rather it is often the inadequate digestion of proteins that causes protein deficiency. Before protein is available for the body to use, it must be broken down into more digestible forms. Insufficient hydrochloric acid is one cause of poor protein digestion, as hydrochloric acid is needed to break protein down into its constituent parts. Without enough hydrochloric acid, proteins are not fully digested, nutrient absorption is reduced, and satiety signals to the brain are impaired. Antacid use is another cause.

Protein deficiency is most likely to occur in people on a strict vegetarian or vegan diet who do not consume adequate amounts of plant proteins, or who do not combine them to obtain the complement of all amino acids. Bulimia, fruitarian diets, diets high in refined carbohydrates, and alcoholic liver damage also contribute to protein insufficiency, which in turn affects amino acid and NT levels. Symptoms of protein deficiency include a lack of mental focus, emotional instability, impaired immune function, fatigue, hair loss, and slow wound healing.

Hazelnut Cakes- A Protein-Rich Dessert

Servings: 4; Preparation Time: 30 minutes

A great source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, hazelnuts are edible and can be eaten fresh or stored for later use. 

Toa Heftiba/ Unsplash

Ingredients

  1. ¼ pound hazelnuts, finely ground 
  2. 1 egg
  3. 4 drops stevia extract (Sweet Leaf)
  4. ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 cup Strawberries (for topping)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl into a batter.
  3. Pour batter onto a parchment-covered round pan (shallow).
  4. Bake in a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.

NOTE: Add a little cool water if you want these thinner, top with fresh strawberries, raspberries, or black cherries. 

Find more healthy, delicious recipes in the cookbook Salish Country Cookbook. For much more on protein deficiency and how to restore the protein your body needs, visit my book Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health.

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