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If you can think back to your high school biology class, you will recall that proteins are large, complex molecules made up of amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids broken down into two different groups, the first are essential amino acids and those you need to get from your diet because your body can’t make them. The second group is called nonessential amino acids as your body can make them from proteins or other amino acids.

Why do You Need Protein?

Every cell and function in your body requires protein. Proteins make everything happen, cells are made up of protein and so is your blood. Proteins called enzymes regulate nutrients getting through cell walls, and they break down food in the digestive system and proteins are the building blocks of your muscles. It is crucial to get good healthy sources of proteins to stay healthy.

Where Can You Get Protein?

There are plenty of sources to get protein; it comes from meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, and vegetables. To be honest though, not getting enough protein is rarely a problem for anyone, however making sure you get all of the essential amino acids or complete protein is pretty easy, eating meat will do that. Do not overlook vegetable protein sources either aside from protein they have a good nutritional profile. So let’s break down some of the protein sources allowed on a Paleo diet.

The first and most obvious protein source is from meat, but meat must come from good sources such as grass fed, wild or free range. That covers game meats, beef, pork, chicken and other fowl essentially you want to stay away processed meats. The deli counter is definitely where you want to buy meat.Eggs are an excellent source of protein as long as they come from free range chickens. Milk and dairy on the other hand tend to be very controversial in the Paleo world. Some consume dairy getting it from organic sources and using full fat dairy products, while others steer clear all together.

There are some vegetable that are high in protein such as kale, broccoli and some other leafy greens, but with the exception of kale none are complete proteins and you will get more bang for your buck from healthy meats. Nuts and seeds are also rich in protein but most should be eaten in moderation. Seafood such as shrimp, oysters, clams, and fish contain lots of healthy protein.

To Shake or Not to Shake

Athletes and bodybuilders in particular incorporate protein shakes to supplement their protein intake. You need protein to build muscle so they consume large amounts of it. Should you consider protein shakes? First protein shakes isolate proteins so you’re not getting it in conjunction with fats and carbs that help you metabolize it, secondly it is heavily processed with artificial flavors and colors and all the things you were trying to get away from in the first place. It is always better to try and get your nutrients from diet before turning to supplements so grab a post workout snack of eggs or meat.
James Christopher, Creative Writer