Why is protein important in your diet?
You probably already know it’s important to get enough protein from the food you eat. It’s well known that protein is important for growth and development in children and for building and repairing our muscles and other body tissues such as hair and skin.
Protein is made up of many amino acids, and some have other very important, but lesser talked about functions too. They are part of our enzymes, hormones, and antibodies meaning they help us move, digest food, develop and grow, and fight bugs.
Protein also helps keep you satisfied for longer after a meal.
What foods provide plenty of protein?
Many foods contain protein, but in varying amounts. Eggs, cheese and meat provide protein; even vegetables and breads too. However, typically, animal products are the best sources.
Fish is a particularly good source, as it contains many other nutrients that are good for you whilst also being low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats.
Fish also contains all nine ‘essential’ amino acids. While our bodies can make some amino acids, we need to get others from the foods we eat.
How much protein does fish provide?
One palm-sized serving (one large or two small fillets) typically provides around 20g of protein. For different types of fish, per 100g the amount of protein varies from around 13-29g.
Are there any age groups or people that protein is particularly important for?
Yes – when we are growing (childhood and teen years), when we get older, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and athletes.
Our protein needs change throughout our life – they are closely linked to age and body size. Our needs increase from infancy (14g per day) peaking in our teens (45-65g per day) and then taper off or slightly decline as we become adults. A teenage male needs about 10g more when he’s in his twenties. Our needs increase again as we get older – when you are 70 you need around 25% more than you do as a younger adult.