Yearning for healthy hair and strong muscles? Eat your protein! Protein builds up, maintains, and replaces tissues in the body, like muscles, skin, and hair. No need to chug a protein shake like those found at the gym, or take supplemental vitamins that promise luscious locks, because there are plenty of ways to put some protein power into your diet the all natural way.
Protein comes from animal foods, like meat, dairy, fish, and eggs, but you can also get your fix of protein from many plant foods, including some vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. It’s always important to balance your diet, so try to mix up your sources of protein to make sure you get a mixture of vitamins and minerals. However, if you’re a vegetarian, or even vegan, the lack of protein from animal foods needs to be compensated by choosing the right foods to eat.
Read the rest to find out more about protein and how to get it in your body.
When you eat protein, your digestive system breaks down the food into amino acids, the body’s basic building blocks. Those amino acids are then scrambled back into the proteins that your body needs. Think of proteins like a pretty necklace and amino acids like the beads. There are many ways to combine beads to make a necklace, just as there are many ways to combine amino acids to make a protein. But like how some designers have their signature beadwork, the body has its preference for 22 amino acids that are important for a healthy body. To break it down even more, 13 of those amino acids can be produced in your body, leaving the other 9 amino acids dependent on your diet.
Complete protein contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Foods that come from animals give your body complete protein. What if you don’t eat meat? Vegetarians need to make up for the complete proteins missing in their diet because most plants don’t contain all 9 amino acids. By including a variety of fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, and nuts in your plant diet, you’ll get complete proteins. For instance, eating beans alone won’t provide all of the essential amino acids, but by combining it with a whole grain, like brown rice or a whole wheat tortilla, your incomplete proteins will add up for more protein power. Luckily, some plant foods do have all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa and soybeans (tofu) are great ways for vegetarians to get complete proteins without too much thought.
As mentioned earlier, protein helps to benefit your tissues, but let’s just focus on muscles and hair. If you’re an athlete, or looking to lose weight or build muscle, protein is important. Even if you’re not active, protein is important! But remember, being active is equally important as eating healthy, and the only way you will see results in your body is if you put it to work.
If your hair is losing its luster or thinning out, pack some protein on your plate. Hair, after all, is also made of protein! But while eating protein will improve your hair from the roots, it’s also important to take care of the hair that you already have. Chop off any dead hair, chow down on some protein, and your hair should be shining in no time.
To get your fix of protein, make sure you include it in every meal. A balanced plate always includes fruits and vegetables and grains (hopefully whole grains!), so mix it up!
Here are some suggestions for protein-packed meals:
* Omelet with spinach and cheese with whole wheat toast
* Whole wheat pancakes with fresh fruit and walnuts
* Granola cereal with vanilla soy milk and bananas
* Toasted whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon
* Chorizo with whole wheat tortilla and grilled peppers
* Oatmeal with raisins and almonds
* Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread
* Turkey wrap with fresh vegetables
* Spinach salad with walnuts and fruit
* Bean and cheese burrito
* Hummus with pita bread and sliced vegetables
* Chicken fajitas with corn tortillas
* Quinoa with roasted vegetables
* Whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce
* Grilled fish with brown rice and fruit salsa
* Stir-fried vegetables with tofu
As always, ask your doctor or nutritionist for the proper advice that fits your lifestyle.
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