Protein is probably the most talked-about macronutrient. It’s a big topic for dieters and body-builders especially. But everyone should know the basics, because the body needs protein to build and repair muscles, bones, skin, enzymes, and hormones. So, what are some good sources? And what defines the quality of a protein?
What are amino acids?
When the body digests and breaks down any protein, amino acids are the result – that’s what the body absorbs and uses. There are 9 essential amino acids the body cannot manufacture on its own, and we need to get those from food. The thing is, we need different amounts of each amino acid and that’s the reason why choosing proteins that contain all of them in the optimal ratio is important.
Animal vs. plant proteins
Protein sources can be divided into two groups: animal based and plant based. Animal proteins usually absorb better and have a much more favorable amino acid profile. This is best evaluated by PDCAAS, protein digestibility corrected amino acid score index. In general, plant based proteins have a lower index, usually around 0.7, than animal ones, usually above 0,9. That means the body will be able to utilize animal protein much better. Of course, no one eats only one type of protein. So when you have a good mix of plant proteins every day, you can cover your needs too.
Recipe: Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki sauce
This recipe serves four people, but every single portion will give you 42 g of protein, 14 g of carbs, and 26 g of fats. It’s a good choice for a healthy lunch or dinner when you want a lot of protein to regenerate well and get satiated.
Ingredients for the Chicken
• 450 g chicken breast, cut into chunks
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
• Ground black pepper to taste
Ingredients for the Tzatziki sauce
• 170 ml plain Greek yogurt
• 1 small cucumber, peeled and grated
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
• 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1. In a small bowl mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and black pepper to make a marinade.
2. In a sealable container, combine chicken chunks and marinade. Cover and marinate in a refrigerator for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.
3. In the meantime, make Tzatziki sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. Remove chicken chunks from the marinade and skewer onto bamboo sticks that have been soaked in water for 5 minutes.
5. Heat a grill pan to medium-high.
6. Grill the chicken kebabs, until cooked through and nicely browned on all sides, about 8 minutes per side.
7. Serve with Tzatziki sauce.