It's easy to understand the excitement. Protein is an important component of
every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body
uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes,
hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of
bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a "macronutrient," meaning that
the body needs relatively large amounts of it. Vitamins and minerals, which are
needed in only small quantities, are called "micronutrients." But unlike fat
and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no
reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply.
So you may assume the solution is to eat protein all day long. Not so fast,
The truth is, we need less total protein that you might think. But we could
all benefit from getting more protein from better food sources.
How Much Protein Is Enough?
We've all heard the myth that extra protein builds more muscle. In fact, the
only way to build muscle is through exercise. Bodies need a modest amount of
protein to function well. Extra protein doesn't give you extra strength.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Teenage boys and active men can get all the protein they need from three
daily servingsfor a total of seven ounces.
For children age 2 to 6, most women, and some older people, the government
recommends two daily servings for a total of five ounces.
For older children, teen girls, active women, and most men, the guidelines
give the nod to two daily servings for a total of six ounces.
Everyone who eats an eight-ounce steak typically served in restaurants is
getting more protein that their bodies need. Plus they're getting a hefty
amount of artery-clogging saturated fat as well.