The best protein foods are not always the most obvious choices. After all, most people start naming off great slabs of red meat when they are talking about protein.
Often forgetting that nuts and seeds are high in this valuable nutrient as well as the mushroom, often an overlooked protein source. The right kind of protein should be included in the diet and in the right amounts.

Everything that you put into your body should play a role in your good health and well being. You should not eat foods that will not help you to stay healthy and strong.

Protein-rich foods will boost your immune function, help you to stay fuller for longer and on smaller amounts of food, and will do a number of other things. It is up to you to find out what makes one protein-rich food better than others.

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?
Protein needs vary by a number of factors including body size and composition, activity level, age, and health status. The more active you are, the more protein you will need; however, it is a myth that athletes need an extreme amount of protein.

The average need for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. To get the right amount of protein for yourself, you can use the following formula: Divide weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms.

Take that number and then multiply by 0.8 to get the amount of daily protein that you need. You will be able to decide the best protein-rich foods for your diet by that number.

Your protein needs will increase or decrease by the other factors. For a sedentary person, 0.4 kg of protein per kilogram of body weight is enough.

Someone who is very active may need as much as a full gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. Very active is defined as someone who engages in moderate to intense exertion for 30 to 60 minutes per day up to four days of the week.

Bodybuilders and other extreme athletes may need as much 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. They do not get big because of the protein, however, but because of their dedication to their hard work and long hours in the gym.

The highest need of protein is during infancy, with new-borns needing 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. While you do need additional protein when you are sick or injured, the need is not extreme.

Protein amounts should be not higher than 35% of daily calories, which can lead to problems like kidney stones.

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Protein Rich Foods and How They Work in the Body
Protein is broken down during digestion into the amino acids. There are twenty amino acids. The body can make all but nine of these on its own, and the others have to be supplied by food on a daily basis.

Protein rich food supplies the essential amino acids that include: leucine, isoleucine, valine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, lysine, and histidine.

Animal proteins are complete because they supply all of these amino acids; plant-based proteins are not complete because they lack one or more of the essential amino acids.

Soy protein, however, is an exception to the rule. The body breaks down these amino acids to use to create other amino acids, hormones, and enzymes that are used to regulate sleep, digestion, and even ovulation.

If these amino acids are disrupted, the sleep cycle and other functions of the body will also be disrupted.

Protein Rich Foods and High Protein Diets
In the past, high protein diets advocated unhealthy food choices like full-fat cheese, bacon, and ground beef while forbidding healthy and necessary foods like complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.

Eating more protein rich foods may be an effective way to lose weight but does not have to be part of the dangerous high protein diets from the past.

While it has always been thought that protein deficiency was a near impossibility in modern times, research at the University of Illinois suggests that most North Americans have only borderline protein intake.

Putting them at risk and just barely covering their nutritional needs. (Source: Amy Carmichael. Expert Encourages High Protein Diet for Weight Loss as the Fad Diet Fades. MedBroadcast. September 21, 2005).

Instead of focusing only on the protein, the new dietary guideline agrees that there is a need for protein rich foods but that there is also a need for complex carbohydrates and fats.

The diet should include healthier versions of protein rich foods, not the high fat, high-calorie choices that had been advocated before. The high protein diet may be a great way to help lose weight; however, it has to be done sensibly and reasonably.

Surprising Protein Rich Foods
There are a number of protein rich foods that people might not realize. Most plant foods do have some protein with the benefit of a vegetarian diet being adequate but not excessive amounts of protein.

The typical vegan diet (which is stricter than the average vegetarian diet) has 10 to 12% of its overall calories from protein while the average diet has 14 to 18% of its calories from protein.

Grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and even various mushrooms and others are all surprising protein rich foods.