From bodybuilders to gym enthusiasts and those interested in increasing their healthy lifestyle, this word is well loved and widely used. We all need protein, and we all need to make sure we get enough of it. Although these complex molecules can seem most important to athletes and those actively working to build muscle, it turns out that all of us need this essential molecule.
But protein can seem shrouded in so much confusion. What exactly is it? What foods give it to us? How do we get enough of these foods?
We’re here to help. We come alongside you as you navigate through the role of protein in your lifestyle.
What is a protein?
We’ll admit: proteins are a little complicated.
Functioning within our bodies as complex molecules, proteins are made up of even smaller units known as amino acids. These acids can combine in a wide range of ways to produce proteins with unique functions, including transport, antibodies, and enzymes. Although we use over twenty of protein’s basic building blocks—amino acids—nine of them must come from food.
Why do our bodies need protein?
Turns out, proteins are powerhouses. We find them all over our bodies—in our hair, skin, and all sorts of tissues. They’re also essential to our bone health. Without protein, these elements of our bodies would not be able to operate.
And our bodies need protein every day. The National Academy of Medicine has established some helpful guidelines to determine how much daily protein your body needs to function. It’s a simple calculation based on your overall body weight. For instance, the recommendation is to consume 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. That works out to around 50 grams of protein if you weigh 140 pounds or 70 grams if your weight is 200 pounds.
Below, we explore in more depth where you can find the protein you need daily.
Where can I find it?
If you were to ask an average American where to find protein, your likely answer would be: meat. Animals, poultry, and fish are known for being high sources of protein. However, their prominence can overshadow other sources of protein, like plant-based proteins.
What is plant-based protein?
Plant-based protein is any protein source that can be classified as vegetation or plant-derived.. Some people select plant-based proteins because of their complex nutritional offerings beyond that in simple red meat or chicken or fish options.
What are good sources of plant-based protein?
We live in a beautifully complex and dynamic world—where we are not limited to animal-based proteins. There is a whole realm of alternatives that offer us exciting options. The following sections explore a few of the areas you can look to for fantastic sources of protein.
Powders and snacks
If animals are the most commonly thought of source of protein, the most commonly associated “protein alternative” is protein powder. While most protein powders are made from whey, an animal protein, there are plant-based protein powders that allow you to get creative and explore fun, easy options.
At Lenny & Larry’s, we’ve crafted products with fun, taste, and protein goals in mind. And we have created our products to offer complete proteins in every bite.
Our latest addition to the family brings a new twist on protein and snacking. We call it the Complete Cookie-fied Bar. Offering a unique texture contrast of crunchy cookie pieces in a chewy bar with 12g of plant-based protein, 5g of prebiotic fiber, and 6g sugar, this delicious new snack will be a welcome replacement for other protein snack bars. This rare twist on protein comes in three flavors—Chocolate Almond Sea Salt, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and (available in October) Cookies & Creme.
A classic source of protein is pretty simple: leafy, dark green vegetables. For reference, an 8 ounce glass of milk (commonly thought of as high protein), offers 8g of protein. Yet, one cup of broccoli combined with one cup of spinach totals 9g of protein—which exceeds the amount offered in a glass of milk!
By looking for dark green, often leafy vegetables as a rule of thumb, you can start increasing your plant-based protein sources simply and easily.
Legumes and beans
Legumes and beans are must-haves for protein alternatives. Only a half of a cup of black beans or chickpeas provides 8g of protein. One half of a cup of lentils rises to 9g of protein, and quinoa can provide 8g in only one cup.
These fiber-filled and protein-dense foods can also have prebiotic fiber elements as they hold their place among healthy, gut-health promoting food choices.
Protein is crucial, but plant-based proteins and protein powder alternatives are easier and more nutrient rich than many realize.
And, even when you are finding fun ways to increase your vegetable intake and legume use, you can add in an extra delicious variety through our protein-packed plethora of snacks. From the Complete Cookie-fied BarTM to our additional shopping options, we have a protein-packed snack ready for any occasion.
Let’s start finding which option is just right for you.