All about protein

Everyone is talking about protein at the moment, and it’s easy to see why.  We need protein for all of our cells to grow and repair, and it’s key in building strong muscles. But most Australians get plenty of protein from the foods they eat.

Protein can also be used as a source of energy, especially if you’re not eating enough carbohydrate foods.

We need more protein during times of cell growth and repair such as:

  • During childhood and teenage years
  • Pregnancy and lactation
  • After illness or surgery

In Australia, most people eat plenty of protein so we don’t need to supplement the diet with any extra.

Some people use protein supplements in an effort to build muscle. The best way to build muscle is to do exercise that uses muscle strength. Although muscle is made of protein, the preferred fuel for working muscles is carbohydrate.

Having more protein than our body needs doesn’t mean we store it for later. In fact, any protein we don’t need will be excreted by the body. So there’s no need to go overboard with adding in extra protein foods.

Protein can come from animal or plant foods such as:

  • Meat, chicken, fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Soy products

High protein diets have been popular in the weight loss scene. It is important that any diet you follow provides all nutrients, and doesn’t cut out whole food groups. That’s where an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can help you maximise the variety of foods you eat while still achieving your goals for good health.

For further information see fad diets.

An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can provide dietary advice on how best to include a variety of foods that meets the body’s protein needs.