Protein is an essential nutrient — it’s important for everything from appetite regulation to physical fitness to healthy skin and hair. But what exactly is a protein? How much do we need, and where do we get it?
On this edition of DataDish: Your Trusted Serving of Science, we talk with Ali Webster, PhD, RD, Associate Director of Nutrition Communications at IFIC and IFIC Foundation. Ali has bachelor of science and doctorate degrees in nutrition from the University of Minnesota, and she is also a Registered Dietitian.
Some highlights from our conversation:
- Protein’s many important roles in the body. From providing energy to catalyzing metabolic reactions to providing structure to our tissues and organs, protein has many vital functions.
- Current recommendations for protein intake. Protein recommendations come in a few forms, and Ali walks us through how to sort through the numbers.
- Variations in protein needs for select groups. Athletes, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and certain clinical populations have protein requirements that differ from an “average” person.
- Animal vs. plant sources of protein: How do they stack up? From steak to tofu to quinoa, protein is found in many foods. Ali explains the distinctions between animal- and plant-based protein sources and provides examples of how to reach individual protein intake goals.