Protein in the diet: the facts and 10 biggest myths?

Protein in der Ernährung: die Fakten und 10 grössten Mythen?

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in our body. It is necessary for the formation and repair of tissue, the production of enzymes and hormones, as well as numerous other vital functions. Yet most people do not consume enough protein, and in this article we will look at this issue in detail.

Why is adequate protein so important?
Protein is essential for our health in many ways. It contributes to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass, which is particularly important for athletes and people who want to improve their physical fitness. However, protein also plays a crucial role for non-athletes. It supports tissue repair, helps in the production of enzymes and hormones, strengthens the immune system and provides a lasting feeling of satiety after meals, which can help prevent overeating.

How much protein is enough?
The recommended daily protein intake can vary from person to person, depending on factors such as age, gender, body weight, activity level and individual health goals. In Switzerland, however, there are general guidelines that provide a rough guide:

Average adults: 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Athletes and physically active people: 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Older people: 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

It is important to note that these figures are average values and should be adjusted individually. People with special dietary needs, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women or people with certain health conditions, may need to consume more protein.

How much protein do people actually consume?
Studies have shown that most people in Switzerland and many other countries do not get enough protein in their diet. For example, one study found that the average protein consumption in Switzerland is around 15-16 percent of daily calorie intake, which is often below the recommended amounts.

Daily protein intake is an important aspect of a balanced diet. It is crucial to consume enough protein to promote health and well-being. The recommended amount may vary depending on individual needs, but it is important to include high quality protein sources in the diet. Studies show that adequate protein intake may be associated with various health benefits. Therefore, it is advisable to review your diet and ensure that there is enough protein in your diet to meet your individual health goals.

Examples of foods and their protein content:

  • Chicken breast: Chicken breast is an excellent source of lean protein. A 100 gram serving of chicken breast contains about 31 grams of protein.
  • Salmon: High-fat salmon is not only rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but also provides a significant amount of protein. A 100 gram serving of salmon contains about 25 grams of protein.
  • Eggs: A large egg contains about 6 grams of protein. They are versatile in preparation and an easy way to get protein into your diet.
  • Lentils: Lentils are an excellent plant-based source of protein. A 100 gram serving of cooked lentils contains about 9 grams of protein.
  • Tofu: Tofu is a popular vegetarian source of protein. A 100 gram serving of tofu contains about 8 grams of protein.
  • Low-fat yogurt: Low-fat yogurt is not only rich in protein, but also in probiotic cultures that aid digestion. A 170 gram serving contains about 15 grams of protein.
  • Nuts: Almonds are a good choice when it comes to protein content in nuts. A 28-gram serving of almonds contains about 6 grams of protein.
  • Spirulina: Spirulina is a microalgae known as a superfood. A 10-gram serving of spirulina contains about 5 grams of protein. Note, however, that the protein content can vary depending on the brand and product.

It is important to note that protein quality also plays a role. Animal proteins usually provide all the essential amino acids, while plant proteins often need to be combined to ensure a complete amino acid profile.

What exactly are proteins?
Proteins are macromolecules made up of amino acids. They are essential building blocks for the body and fulfill a variety of vital functions. Here is some basic information about proteins:

Amino acids: Proteins consist of a chain of amino acids that are linked together. There are a total of 20 different amino acids, some of which the body can produce itself, while others must be obtained from food.

Biological functions: Proteins are involved in a variety of biological functions. They serve as building blocks for tissues such as muscles, skin and hair. Enzymes, which are responsible for chemical reactions in the body, are also made up of proteins. Proteins are also essential for the immune system, the transport of substances in the blood and many other functions.

Sources: Proteins can come from both animal and plant sources. Animal sources include meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Plant sources include legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and spirulina.

Biological value: The biological value of a protein indicates how well it can be absorbed and used by the body. Animal proteins often have a higher biological value than plant proteins, but plant proteins can also be used effectively through a balanced diet.

Dailyrequirement: The daily protein requirement varies from person to person and depends on factors such as age, gender, activity level and state of health. It is important to consume enough protein to meet your body's needs.

With this understanding of what protein is, we can now take a closer look at the individual myths.

Myth 1: The more protein, the better
The amount of protein you need depends on various factors, such as your age, gender, body weight and activity level. Consuming too much protein can cause excess calories and lead to weight gain.

Myth 2: All proteins are the same
Animal proteins (e.g. from meat, fish and eggs) and plant proteins (e.g. from pulses, nuts, seeds and spirulina) have different amino acid profiles. Combining different protein sources in your diet can ensure that you get a wide range of amino acids.

Myth 3: Protein automatically makes you muscular
Protein alone does not automatically lead to muscle growth. Physical training is necessary to build muscle. Proteins are merely building blocks for muscle tissue, but training is the key to muscle development.

Myth 4: Too much protein is harmful to the kidneys
As a rule, moderate amounts of protein are harmless for healthy kidneys. However, people with existing kidney disease should consult their doctor, as an excessive protein load can put additional strain on the kidneys.

Myth 5: Protein can burn fat
Protein has no direct effect on fat burning. A calorie deficit achieved through an appropriate diet and exercise is crucial for weight loss.

Myth 6: Plant-based proteins are less valuable
Plant-based proteins can be just as valuable as animal-based proteins if you eat a variety of plant-based protein sources. For example, legumes and grains can be combined to achieve a complete amino acid composition. Spirulina is also an excellent plant-based source of protein.

Myth 7: Protein makes you feel full, so you can eat more
Protein can be filling, but total calorie intake is crucial for weight loss. It's important not to overeat just because you've eaten protein.

Myth 8: Protein shakes are always healthy
Protein shakes can be beneficial, but should not be your main source of nutrition. Some commercial protein shakes contain additives and sugar, so it's important to check the ingredients list and look for healthier options.

Myth 9: Protein is only important for athletes
Proteins are important for everyone as they contribute to the repair and renewal of tissues. They are not only essential for athletes, but for general health.

Myth 10: You can never eat enough protein
Adequate protein consumption is important, but excessive protein consumption is often simply stored as calories and can lead to weight gain. It is important to follow a balanced diet.

Overall, a balanced diet should include a variety of protein sources to ensure optimal nutrient intake. Individual protein intake can vary depending on the factors mentioned above, so it is advisable to seek advice from a nutrition expert to develop the best strategy for your personal needs.

You can find more interesting articles on this topic here:

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