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When I was child, one of the first influencers of why I should be eating more protein daily was Popeye the Sailor. To solve his woes, this iconic cartoon character would gulp down cans of spinach to become stronger and more energized right before my very eyes.

Many of us don’t associate spinach with protein, but as I child it is what I assuming he was doing. After all, Popeye was building his muscles and protein is known for that. Bursting with nutrients, minerals and antioxidants, canned spinach has surprisingly more protein than a single egg with 6 grams per cup while cooked frozen spinach provides 7.6 g of protein versus the 5 grams in a hard-boiled egg.

Protein is actually a “macronutrient,” meaning your body needs relatively large amounts of it. Not enough protein can lessen the functions of your body while too much protein it can put a strain on your body causing a high level of acidity. And unlike fat and carbohydrates, your body doesn’t store protein and needs a daily supply.

So how much protein should you have in your diet every day? Try to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of your bodyweight from the various types of protein sources. If you are working out hard regularly, then you might want to increase our intake to 1.2 or 1.4 grams depending on how intense you are training. To calculate what your daily grams of protein intake should be based on your fitness goal of either to build muscle, lose weight, increase your speed and power, or to increase your endurance, click here for a protein intake calculator and simply enter your body-weight and select your goal.

The largest amounts of protein can also be found animal meats and fish, such as venison (30 g), lobster (26 g), chicken breast (24 g), fish (23 g), and beef fillet (21 g) per 100 gram serving. Nuts and seeds are close behind with pumpkin seeds (29 g), peanut butter (25 g), and almonds (21 g) per 100 gram serving. Cheese is surprisingly high in protein with 31 g per serving and soya beans are even higher at 36 grams. Green vegetables, such as broccoli, peas, and asparagus in addition to spinach all contain protein as does milk, yogurt, beans, hummus, and whole grains. And it doesn’t stop there. The choices are plentiful.

Protein is made up of amino acids which are known as the building blocks of protein. There are about 20 different amino acids but there are eight essential amino acids. Collectively these amino acids provide the recovery and growth your muscles need after a good gym workout or long run.

And the benefits of protein continue. Protein is the building block to repair muscle and to and grow new skin, hair, and nails. It is vital to your bones, cartilage, and blood. It provides helps to fight off illnesses and diseases, and keeps the immune system functioning properly. Protein also creates enzymes, hormones, and other essential chemicals needed by your body. And along with carbohydrates, protein provides that much needed energy for your body which helps keep you from becoming fatigued.

Besides eating nuts, one of my favorite ways to consume protein in my diet is through a smoothie or shake with protein powder. Protein powders, such as whey or pea and brown rice proteins, are frequently used by fitness folks and bodybuilders to help “supplement” their daily protein intake. Research has found these types of protein are the highest quality proteins you can consume, proving it essential for helping your body maintain and build lean muscle and recover from intense training.

Whether your preferred protein is in a vanilla protein shake in the morning, lobster tails for dinner, or cans of spinach like Popeye, eating enough protein is essential to maintain a healthy body. Keep it in mind the next time you prepare a meal or are handed a menu at a restaurant. Choice smart and eat well for your body.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.