Essentials of Protein & Fat

Are you getting enough of these two important nutritional elements in your daily diet?

Protein and Fat are essential to our bodies for various reasons and many of us are unaware if their importance due to fad diets, media reporting and inappropriately funded or bad research.

Protein

is essential for the regeneration of healthy cells and building muscle, it is also used for making enzymes, hormones and antibodies.

Protein isn’t the first fuel source the body looks to for energy, it will search for carbs and fats first, but we need to ensure that we have enough good quality protein in our diets to enable the body to utilise what it needs for the repair or rebuilding of cells. While not usually a major source of energy it plays a more important role during the latter stages of strenuous prolonged endurance exercise as your glycogen stores become depleated.

Unlike excess carbohydrates and fat, the body does not store excess protein in the same way. It’s used to form muscle and organ tissue, and what we don’t use is excreted naturally.

Fats

Are often given a bad reputation and rightly so if you’re talking processed hydrogenated and trans fats.  But Fat is essential to our bodies in many ways, and good quality fat should not be illuminated from our diets even if we are trying to lose weight.

Fat works hand in hand with protein and aids the transportation of nutrients around our body.  It’s present in the make up of our cell membranes, brain tissue, nerves, and bone marrow.

Fat takes longer to metabolise than carbs meaning you will feel fuller on less food and stay satisfied for longer.  This is because it helps managed a hormone called leptin within our bodies.

Leptin is a protein that’s made in our fat cells, it tells your brain that you have sufficient energy stored which means you can burn energy at a normal rate. In essence it tells our brains that all is OK in the world of energy levels.

When we go onto strict calorie controlled diets that leave us hungry, leptin levels drop below normal range and our brains reads these signals as the beginnings of starvation and alerts go out for the immediate need for food for survival.  Several processes begin within the body to drive leptin levels back up leading to the hunt for food, and so the cycle continues.

So, fat and protein need to exist in our diets for us to be the healthiest we can be.  Look back at our ancestors, their diets would have consisted predominantly saturated fats and proteins from rich animal and plant sources.

So how much of each is enough? We could give you figures but as it the Karmea way, we don’t like to live by numbers!  There are some easy ways to work out what you need, use your EYES.

Top Tips:

Eat proteins and fats at each meal. A chicken breast, usual size portion of salmon or trout, a good sized steak, and around 2-3 eggs is a good guide.

Look to good sources that you can easily cook.  Meats, fish, nuts, seeds, good quality oils, pulses, eggs and dairy.

When cooking with oil, use coconut oil or pure ghee instead of processed vegetable fats.
Always use olive oil cold, never heat to a high degree it as it becomes unstable.

Enjoy organic grass fed meats. If you’re buying good quality meat, the fat on that meat will be good quality also. An added bonus, you’ve also hit your protein and fat requirement from one food source!  Remember fat is where we store our good and our bad!

If you’re vegetarian add lentils, eggs and nuts to dishes to boost your protein.  You can also look at alternatives for instance fermented soy products like tempeh and miso but these should be used in moderation.

If you don’t eat fish, pouring a table spoon of flax seed oil over your lunch or evening meal is a easy way to add omega 3 and omega 6 stores.

As is the Karmea clean eating way, always avoid processed foods which will contain high levels of hidden hydrogenated and trans fats.

Eating proteins and fats as a part of a healthy balanced diet will boost you vitality and energy and make sure you are getting the most out of all the good food you are eating.

Literally every living cell in your body will thank you for it!

 


09 April 2013

By Sarah Anne

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