What is protein, and why is it so important?
Protein is one of the five food groups, and it is responsible for building muscle when paired with proper exercise. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Some amino acids are made in the body, while others can only be found in their food.
Think of protein as a puzzle and—amino acids as the puzzle pieces. If the puzzle had twenty pieces and you were missing nine, you would not finish the puzzle. Well, your body acts the same way. If we do not eat different protein foods, we cannot build muscle effectively because our proteins are not complete.
We can not eat too much or too little protein. If we eat too much the excess calories can be stored, and negative weight gain can occur, or if we eat too little, our body will find energy in the body by losing muscle.
The RDA recommends that teen girls have 46 grams a day while teen boys should have 52 grams a day, but every kid has different activity levels and body types. Other health organizations have recommended 0.6-0.9 grams per body weight. There are many recommendations out there, but remember to listen to your body and everything in moderation.
Where can we get protein from?
The most complete protein we can get from food is animal products. Meat, chicken, eggs, cheese, milk, fish, and many others are the best protein sources. What if I do not eat meat? Thats are okay too! Many other non-animal foods have proteins as well such as nuts, beans, whole grain rice, while grain bread, oats, and quinoa to name a few. To make sure we are getting complete proteins we want to make sure we are eating a variety of protein foods throughout the week to take in enough protein.
Protein is awesome because it can help us stay full and when we are not hungry, we can be focused for competition and the classroom. Here are some kid-friendly meals that are quick, easy, and most kids enjoy.
Eggs with Cheese
This is something I cook for my kids every morning before school. It is quick and easy. My kids enjoyed it and paired with some yogurt or sausage, it can keep them full till snack. That way, they are more alert for class.
Tuna Fish Sandwich On Whole Grain Bread
Some people like to use mayo with their tuna. I mix the tuna with mustard. Mustard is a more calorie-friendly option. The tuna paired with the whole grain bread makes this an excellent lunch option that tasty and packed with good protein
Peanut Butter Sandwich On Whole Grain Bread
Who doesn’t like a Peanut Butter Sandwich? Add some jelly on there and have a meal that will give your young athlete the energy they need to stay focused in the classroom and on the field.
Bean, Cheese, Whole Grain Rice, And Whole-Grain Tortilla Burrito
If you have many mouths to feed, this is a cost-effective option packed with protein from a number of sources that give you the complete protein you need.
In the end, we never want to stick to one protein source. Make sure you eat protein from various foods throughout the week to make those complete proteins so you can perform your best in the classroom and on the field.