The value of proteins in our daily diet


In cooperation with Giouli Fragkiadoulaki, Clinical Nutritionist-Dietician, BSc, Scientific Director of the Dietetic Support & Metabolic Control Centre LOGO DIATROFIS Heraklion Crete, Founding Member of the Hellenic Nutritionists Society,,,

The value of proteins in our daily diet

Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are essential nutrients for the human body on a daily basis and received exclusively from food. Specifically, proteins consist the fundamental structural component of the cells and tissues of the human body. Proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are essential for life. It is important to note that the human body cannot synthesize nine out of the twenty essential amino acids, which as a result can be obtained exclusively through protein foods.

Proteins are divided into two categories according to their origin:

Animal proteins: They are present in foods of animal origin, such as meat and meat products, fish, eggs, poultry and dairy products.

Plant proteins: They are present in foods of plant origin, such as legumes, cereal grains, soy, nuts and mushrooms.

Animal proteins are characterized as proteins of high biological value, due to the fact that they contain all the essential amino acids that the human body cannot synthesize. In contrast, plant proteins are usually of low biological value. More specifically, dairy products’ proteins are divided into three categories: casein, whey protein and secondary proteins that are necessary for the human body.

Apart from being the main structural component of the body, proteins also seem to contribute to weight loss via two pathways: by enhancing the sense of satiety and by boosting metabolism. It is noteworthy that when proteins are combined with other nutrients, such as calcium found in dairy products, they may have an even greater impact on the regulation of body weight. Scientific research has also shown that, combined with calcium, peptides derived from whey protein can significantly boost lipolysis (fat breakdown).

Your protein needs:

Under normal circumstances and in the absence of exercise, the protein needs of the human body are estimated as 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, if you are a woman who is not systematically working out and weighs 60 kilograms, your estimated daily protein needs are 60 x 0.8 g = 48 g. Given that 1 glass of milk or 1 cup of yoghurt contains approximately 8 g of proteins, this means that the remaining amount of protein you need can be obtained either by increasing your daily consumption of dairy products, or by consuming other protein-rich foods, such as chicken, fish, etc.

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2. Westerterp-Plantenga MS. The significance of protein in food intake and body weight regulation. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care (2003); 6(6): 635-638.