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Protein is Essential Energy Source in Diet

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Protein is an essential source of energy in the diet, and also helps a person to maintain feeling satisfied or “full” for a longer period of time. This important diet component may actually be lacking or insufficient in some instances raising concerns that people are unaware of the benefits of protein in order to maintain a healthy weight and optimal nutrition.

While the amount of protein required in the diet may vary according to a person’s age, weight, level of activity, etc., nutritionists stress that it is still extremely important to include a good source of protein in a healthy, balanced diet. As well as affecting satiety, protein builds lean muscle mass, and can positively impact the body’s immune function.

According to some Canadian dieticians, certain individuals may be short-changing themselves regarding the quantity of protein consumed during meals. Protein contributes to vital energy as well as helping to build and maintain muscle and tissue. It is also highly effective at moderating spikes in blood sugar. People trying to lose weight as well as vegetarians are encouraged to include enough protein in their diets.

The protein that a person consumes is broken down into amino acids and then used throughout the body. Many basic physiological functions including regulation of hormones and enzymes also require energy from protein.

Animal sources are especially nutrient rich, although dairy products, legumes, nuts, soy, and grains are also effective means to increase protein intake. Dieticians suggest avoiding adding fat during the cooking process, and choosing options such as baking, broiling, or barbecuing in order to reduce fat and keep the protein lean.

The US Department of Agriculture suggests that men consume between 5.5 to 6.5 ounces of protein per day according to individual needs. Most women should aim for 5 to 5.5 ounces.

Source: Associated Press