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What are Proteins?

Many of the structural and functional components of our cells are made up of various proteins. Proteins are fairly large molecules that are comprised of smaller units called amino acids.

Weather a protein is a complete protein or not simply depends on whether it contains all the different types of amino acid or not. If it has all 20 amino acids then it is considered to be complete. Out of these twenty amino acids, our body can on its own synthesize 12. The other 8 amino acids are required to be availed from external sources such as our diet (plant based diet OR animal based diet, both are equally good).

These 8 amino acids that we must get in our diet are called essential amino acids. Different amino acids carry out different functions in our body. Some of these functions are cell repair, muscle growth, immune functions, enzyme regulation, etc.

Most common source of protein

Animal Sources of Protein

Meat and Fish

  • Chicken, breast, skin off, roasted, 100g: 34 g of protein
  • Lamb, chops, 100g: 28g of protein
  • Beef, 100g: 27g of protein
  • Snapper 1 x fillet (approx. 170g): 45g of protein
  • Salmon 1/2 x fillet (approx. 180g): 39g of protein
  • Tuna, tinned, 85g: 22g of protein
  • Ham, 100g: 17g of protein
  • Bacon whole rasher, grilled, 100g: 22.2g of protein
  • Sausage, beef, grilled, 100g: 13.9g of protein
  • Sausage, pork, grilled, 100g: 16.8g of protein

Dairy and Eggs

  • Eggs, 1 x large, poached: 6g of protein
  • Milk, cow’s, full fat, 100mL: 3.5g of protein
  • Milk, cow’s, skimmed, 100mL: 3.7g of protein
  • Cheese, cheddar, full fat, 100g: 24.6g of protein
  • Fetta, goat/sheep, 100g: 17.4g of protein
  • Ricotta, reduced fat, 100g: 10.1g of protein
  • Cream cheese, full fat, 100g: 11.1g of protein
  • Haloumi, 100g: 21.3g of protein
  • Yoghurt, natural, full fat, 100g: 6g of protein

Plant Sources of Protein


  • Red lentils, 100g: 6.8g of protein
  • Yellow split peas, 100g: 6.6g of protein
  • Quinoa, 100g: 4g of protein
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo), tinned, 100g: 6.3g of protein
  • Cannelini beans, tinned, 100g: 6.2g of protein
  • Kidney beans, tinned, 100g: 6.6g of protein
  • Tofu, firm, 100g: 12g of protein
  • Tofu, silken, 100g: 8.1g of protein

Nuts and Seeds

  • Almonds, raw, 25g: 6g of protein
  • Walnuts, raw, 25g: 4g of protein
  • Brazil nuts, raw, 25g: 3.6g of protein
  • Cashew nuts, raw, 25g: 5g of protein
  • Peanut butter, no salt or sugar, 1Tbs: 6g of protein
  • Pumpkin seeds, raw, 25g: 6.1g of protein
  • Sunflower seeds, raw, 25g: 6.7g of protein

Bread and Grains

  • Bread, white, 100g (approx 2 slices): 9.7g of protein
  • Bread, wholemeal, 100g: 9g of protein
  • Bread, gluten free, 100g: 9.8g of protein
  • Bread, rye, light, 100g: 9g of protein
  • Oats, whole, raw, 100g: 2g of protein
  • Pasta, white, 100g: 4.2g of protein
  • Pasta, wholemeal, 100g: 4.9g of protein
  • Rice, white, 100g: 2.7 of protein
  • Rice, wholegrain, 100g: 2.9g of protein
  • Pearled barley, 100g: 2.9g of protein
  • Polenta, cooked in water, 100g: 2.6g of protein

Effects of Protein Deficiency

Thinning or Brittle Hair

Since hair is made up of protein, lack the amount of protein may cause hair loss and thinning or brittle hair. If you become deficient enough, your hair will even begin to fall out.

Skin Rashes

Skin may flake and go dry resulting into rashes.

Healing and tissue repair issue

Amino acids are required for healing of wounds. For healing and repair the body uses amino acids to make new tissue and repair the existing ones.

Sleep issues

Difficulty in sleeping due to low serotonin, which may result due to lack of certain amino acids.


Edema is a collection of fluid under the skin, which most commonly affects the legs, feet, and ankles but can occur anywhere on the body. Protein is essential for maintaining a balance of water in your body; without it, you may store water improperly.

Weight Loss

Severe weight loss is one symptom of a protein deficiency. It may be attributed to muscle wastage, as your body breaks down your muscles in an attempt to get protein from them.

Ridges in Nails

Another sign of lack of protein in the diet is, ridges or white lines in both finger and toe nails. Ridges that run from top to bottom on the nail can indicate an ongoing protein deficiency, while a ridge that runs transverse may indicate a deficiency that has now passed.

Pale Skin

Skin that loses pigment and burns more easily in the sun can be caused by a lack of iron, as well as protein. Frequently, foods that are rich in iron also contain protein, and protein is necessary for the body to utilize iron properly. Anemia or lack of iron may result in pale skin.

General Weakness

Lack of protein may make a person feel tired and lethargic.


in the following ways;
  • By causing low blood sugar
  • By causing anemia
  • Fainting caused due to low sugar, or the need to break muscle tissue to get nutrients

Other related Symptoms

Some psychological problems connected are;
  • Rapid mood changes, Feeling constant irritation
  • Depression
  • Issues with resolving conflict
  • Lack of drive to do more
  • Anxiety

Effects of Excess Protein

Excess protein may result in Weight Gain

Your body does not store proteins. If you give it more than it can use then it will covert proteins to fats, resluting in weight gain.

Fuels cancer

High sugar levels help feed pathogenic bacteria and yeast, such as Candida albicans (candidiasis), as well as fueling cancer cell growth in the body.

A protein overload is known to trigger an important biochemical pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which has a significant role in many cancers.

When you take only as much protein as the body needs, mTOR remains dormant, which keeps cancer growth inhibited.

Stress kidney and liver

Filtering excess protein, stresses kidneys and liver by putting them in an overdrive.

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