Protein and fats are both considered essential macronutrients. Fat is plentiful, even when you are lean, and by consuming the two absolutely essential fatty acids, you can manufacture others from other precursors if required. Carbohydrates can be produced from protein, if it is necessary, or the body can begin using ketones and fats for the bulk of the energy that would otherwise come from carbohydrates. Protein cannot be made with the raw material available in your body. It is necessary to eat foods containing the range of amino acids that we need.
In other words, protein is incredibly important
Most people naturally eat the right amount of protein for their needs. Protein is such a crucial nutrient that the brain has specific mechanisms that increase your desire for it if you need more and decrease your desire for it if you are getting too much. These mechanisms are challenging to override through willpower alone. For this reason, a good general recommendation is to simply eat as much protein as you desire.
The Role Of Protein
Protein is important for almost every physiological and biological function including:
- Construction of new cells, muscles, organs, and other tissues.
- Being a chemical messenger, allowing the expression of genes.
- Forming the fundamental substrates used to manufacture enzymes, DNA, and hormones.
- Building muscle.
- Protein can even be a fuel source, either directly or through conversion into glucose.
The strings of amino acids and peptides that make up proteins are eventually broken down and manipulated to form new chains to fulfill all the roles protein is required for. Every bite of protein you consume contributes toward maintenance of your physiology. The body can neither store, nor make new protein. You have to eat it.
How Much Protein
According to dietary guidelines, in the USA, an adult male should have 113 grams of protein for every 3,000 calories and an active female should have 83 grams of protein for every 2,200 calories consumed during the day. This works out to approximately 15% of the total amount of calories consumed each day.
Bear in mind, this is the minimum amount necessary to ensure survival and a Paleo diet emphasises optimizing your health, meaning you may require more protein. There are situations where it would make sense to increase the protein intake up to 30% or even 35% of the calorie intake, such as when you are physically exhausted and mentally drained, or need all the energy you can muster for physically strenuous work.
For the tastiest chef inspired Paleo meals with the highest quality proteins, check out this week’s menu >>>>>
Reasons To Increase Protein On A Paleo Diet
There is plenty of evidence that suggests that a higher protein diet is good for fat loss. Proteins are much more satiating than fat and carbohydrates. They dampen your cravings for food for a long period of time too. Eating more protein results in feeling satisfied even by eating less, and thus supports the ability to lose weight even without making too much of an effort.
Protein is the most weight loss friendly macronutrient, by far. Studies show that a high protein diet can boost metabolic rate by up to 80 to 100 calories per day. Protein also requires the most energy to digest due to the thermic effect of food.
Blood Sugar Control
A high protein diet can help regulate blood sugar levels. Eating protein with your meal prevents a spike in the blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, and boosts the metabolic rate. This explains why people suffering from type 2 diabetes are advised to increase the protein content of their diet.
Training & Building Muscle
Protein is an essential nutrient for building muscles, supporting both adding muscle mass and maintaining it. Whether you are an endurance athlete, participate in CrossFit, regularly do HIIT or are a bodybuilder, paying close attention to your protein intake can significantly impact your goals. Adding more protein can be particularly helpful to you when you need energy after a particularly strenuous workout.
Advanced Age & Illness Recovery
You definitely need to take more protein if you are ill or suffering from a serious ailment or healing from an injury. Protein can help prevent tissue breakdown and slows down the effects of aging. Older adults in particular need to eat more protein-rich foods especially dealing with a chronic or acute illness, or facing a hospitalization.
During these stressful periods, aging bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health, and other essential physiological functions.
When experiencing excessive stress, be it physical or psychological, the tissues start breaking down due to the wear and tear effect on the body’s allostatic load. Having enough protein can prevent the buildup of this physiological stress response in the body. Protein prevents a spike in blood sugar levels which in turn reduces physiological stress even further. It has a stabilizing effect on the mind, calms you when you are under the weather, boosts energy levels and corrects blood sugar imbalance.
Protein & Your Paleo Diet
When following a Paleo lifestyle, getting 20% to 35% of your calories from protein every day is a good place to begin. A 30% to 35% protein intake, might support you further in aiming for maximum weight loss or are into weightlifting, bodybuilding or any extremely intense physical training.
For those training at a moderate to vigorous intensity, a protein intake of 25% to 30% is recommended. For older people, or those suffering from a chronic illness or recovering from injury, the protein intake should be between 20% to 25%. These are the basic guidelines, and can be modified if necessary to suit your lifestyle, goals, needs, concerns and appetite for protein.
Paleo Protein Sources
When it comes to choosing your protein, the best sources for humans are humanely raised animal foods.
A Paleo template encourages eating the highest quality:
- Dairy (if tolerated and included)
For a comprehensive list of all Paleo foods, read on here
These foods contain the most bioavailable form of protein: animal protein. This makes sense when you consider that humans are, in fact, animals, and use the protein in foods to build new animal tissues in the human animal bodies. It follows that animal protein will be a better and a more efficient choice than plant protein at performing the many functions protein is required for.
This can be further confirmed by referring to the Biological Value (BV) of a given protein source. The BV describes the proportion of protein in a food that is actually utilized and becomes incorporated into your tissues, with 100 being best.
- Egg protein: 100 BV
- Whey isolate: 100 BV
- Milk protein: 91 BV
- Beef: 80 BV
- Fish: 76 BV
As compared to:
- Soy protein: 74 BV
- Beans 65 BV
- Wheat gluten: 64 BV
- Pea protein: 65 BV
Animal protein is complete; it contains all essential amino acids (those amino acids that you are unable to make and must obtain from food). Plant proteins tend to be incomplete. No individual plant protein is complete, except for perhaps potato protein (but the absolute levels of protein in a potato are too low). This is why vegetarians need to ensure they combine different plant proteins to obtain all the necessary amino acids.
It is true that you could get your protein from a combination of plant-based protein sources but, as your Paleo lifestyle recommends, you could make choices from the many animal sources available – think eggs for breakfast, steak or chicken for dinner, perhaps some wild-caught sardines or some delicious meat sauce.
Chef Pete wrote an entire cookbook with delicious, seasonal Paleo recipes, teaching you how to cook as well as recipes to satisfy any and all – grab your copy here >>>>>>
For starters, try this delicious protein meal and enjoy food that is not only a treat for your taste buds, but will support you in achieving your health goals too!
Cook Time: 4 - 5 hours
- 2 Tablespoons Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
- 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
- ½Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1 Rack of Ribs (4 – 5 pounds)
- 1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped (2 cups)
- 1 Pound Heirloom Tomatoes, quartered
- 1 Quart Chicken Stock (get your bone broth here)
- Preheat the oven to 325 ̊F.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, dried basil, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Massage the rib meat with the spice rub.
- Add the onion and tomatoes to a roasting pan and place the ribs on top. If the whole rack doesn’t fit in the pan (it probably won’t), just split the ribs down the center, or even into fourths if necessary.
- Pour the chicken stock over the ribs and vegetables.
- Cover with foil and braise for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.
- To serve, pour the braising liquid, onions, and tomatoes over the top of the ribs.
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com