When people speak about protein we usually think of meat, fish, chicken and cheese. We believe that by not eating this kind of foods every day, for every meal, we will be protein deficient, our bodies will starve and we will lose our muscle. Well, this is not true, there are many ways in which we can get our protein needs without putting ourselves at risk.
What happens when you eat too much protein?
- When you eat more protein than you need, your body will just turn it into sugar and fat.
- The metabolic acid in your body will increase, leaching calcium from your bones. In the long run this will cause your bones to deteriorate.
- According to recent studies, a diet high in protein is associated with an increase in breast cancer, higher blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- An excess of protein may be toxic for the body, and the organs that suffer the most are the kidneys and the liver. They are the filters of the body, and if they do not function properly, or have too much waste to get rid of, part of that excess will stay in our blood and make us sick.
- When we have too much protein we may suffer from dizziness and confusion. This happens mainly because there may be a deficiency of complex carbohydrates and not enough glucose to fuel the brain. Furthermore, we may also be low in energy because this is a process that requires a high amount of energy to breakdown the amino acids that make up that protein we need to eliminate.
So what can be done?
- To keep a healthy diet, people should consume from 40-70 grams of protein per day. This depends on their weight, height, gender and activity level. An average person is recommended to have around 0.8 grams of protein per kilo, but this number may vary if they are sick, pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Once a week a try a ‘no meat day’. Instead, go with plant based proteins such as peas, broccoli, tofu, tempeh and mushroom. It will help you to regulate blood sugar balance, lose weight, improve digestion and it’ll save you some money.
- Don’t overdo on the sizes of animal protein in your plate. Half of the plate should be composed of vegetables, ¼ of a complex carbohydrate and ¼ of protein.
These charts are very useful and will give you an idea of how much protein is in food, and how much of each you should be consuming.
There is a recipe I really like, is easy to make and gives me all the protein I need for lunch or dinner.
Quinoa salad with blanched vegetables
Ingredients for the salad: Quinoa and vegetables of your choice.
Salad dressing: Tahini, 1 lime, hot water, cumin and salt.
- Prepare your quinoa. Do it as you would do with rice, 1 cup of quinoa and two cups of water. When water boils put the quinoa in, lower the heat and leave for about 15 minutes, or until it the water has evaporated completely.
- Boil water for the vegetables.
- Cut the vegetables you have in your fridge. I usually use broccoli, courgette and carrots.
- Put the vegetables in the boiling water for no more than 20 seconds. Then drain and set apart.
- Mix the quinoa, vegetables and the canned peas in your plate.
- Mix the juice from the lime, tahini cumin and salt. Slowly add the hot water to the dressing to give it the consistency you want it to have. Mix with a spoon until it is smooth.
- Add the dressing, and there you go! A plate with at least 30 grams of protein, depending on the amount of quinoa and vegetables you use.
There are many alternatives for you to try and experiment. The world doesn’t end at pork at lamb. That is just the beginning!