Unleash the power of protein

Vahdaneh Vahid

Published: Updated:

I can’t stress the importance of protein in your daily diet, despite the health crazes in the Middle East now encouraging people to eat less meat and more veggies! I thought I would write this article with Ramadan approaching soon and the importance placed on the food by those fasting being even greater. Many families value this holy month to gather around and eat traditional meals and feasts. On the plus side, at least these traditional foods do contain animal proteins, which are essential for the body.

If you were to take the body apart it would just consist of bones, water, fat and protein. Of all these mechanisms of which you are made from, protein is the most active nutrient as it is the main raw material used for repair work in your body, especially when you’re under so much stress through long days of fasting.

When the body is without food for 4 hours or more it goes into a catabolic state, which means it breaks down your muscle tissue for fuel.

Your stem cells are always in working progress, as you’re always rebuilding the cells & tissue 24/7. As a result the main building blocks for your body are proteins NOT carbohydrates, so it would be rational to say the more protein you consume, then the more raw building material is supplied to help along this process.

In other words, eating a diet rich in a good source of protein can actually slow down and prevent aging and many diseases.

Which protein your body really needs

The mistake that most people make, and I come across these conversations with clients on a day-to-day basis, is understanding that the human body needs protein from animals and not vegetables!

The digestive tract secretes hydrochloric acid and protein digesting enzymes that can easily be broken down, from protein such as cheeses, eggs, gelatine (bone broths) and meats. When it comes to eating ‘so called’ proteins, such as soy, vegetables, beans, grass, the body does not have the right bacteria and enzymes as in ruminant animals (cows, sheep) to be able to break these materials down.

When you reach the age of 21, like it or not, you then start to age.

Vahdaneh Vahid

So the next time you order Soymilk Starbucks, thinking you’re being healthy, then remember that you’re not built to utilize protein from such foods well.

Here is a perfect example as to why our Paleolithic ancestors back in the day, and even those who exist in rainforests today, only hunt for certain foods.

Back then, man developed a large brain and therefore the only foods that could support this brain size and the body along with it, were of land animals, shellfish, fruits and root vegetables.

If the tribes could not access these foods they would suffer from poor health, frequently resulting in death.

So you can and should enjoy such proteins from animals, including cheese, eggs, milk, bone broth and all organ meats with no remorse! Remember these foods have been demonized by the industrial food industry, as they are NOT profitable produce. As they are not cheap to raise naturally and manufacture compared to other foods they want to push and advertise in your directions, which instead include soy and corn-based products.

Digesting protein

When you reach the age of 21, like it or not, you then start to age. Only your fingernails and hair will grow, therefore your need for muscle meats should be reduced. Muscles meats are better for growth, as during adulthood large amounts of them (steak, chops, filets etc) can cause inflammation. This is due to the types of proteins (amino acids) found in these particular foods. I would recommend eating organ meats if you can stomach these as they have a greater content of vitamins and trace minerals. If you can’t stomach organ meats then muscles meats are ok but try to reduce your intake to 2-3 times a week.

I would strongly highlight the importance of gelatine which I have mentioned in my previous article. Gelatine also known bone broth is made from the collagen around the bones of the animals. It is very anti-inflammatory as well as easier to digest. Your other protein requirements can be balanced out with dairy, eggs and shellfish and of course some organ or muscle meats.
This way, you will save a fortune by not buying expensive supplements and vitamins!

How much protein do I eat daily?

Adult protein requirement depends of your health level and how active you are throughout your day. On a whole, I would recommend starting with 70-100 grams per day. An active person such as myself would eat 3oz per meal, which is around 21 grams. I don’t use protein in the form of protein shakes! If I do, I make my own as I know what is going in them.

Why I don’t use whey protein powder!

Whey protein is the product left over from when cheese is being made.

The whey is processed to death to make it into a powder. Wouldn’t it be healthier to eat real protein instead?

If you want a good source of protein, carbohydrates and fat to really simulate your metabolism and help rebuild muscle growth, I would suggest making your own shakes using fresh organic milk, raw organic free-range eggs, some coconut oil and fruit or honey.

Vahdaneh Vahid is a UK-based Personal Trainer who recently moved to Dubai. She has had an interest in fitness from a young age. Her motto is now "Train Don't Drain" and teaches her clients that a balanced understanding of their physical, mental and emotional wellness is key. She can be found on Twitter: @vvfitness

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.