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Protein: Getting the balance right

Published: March 04, 2021


Lentils are a good source of protein
Lentils are a good source of protein
This course is intended to bring together information about protein and its contribution to your health.
This may help you to assess how much protein you need, and how to obtain that amount of protein from your diet.
Understanding the role of protein in your diet and your personal protein requirement will help you achieve your health related weight loss, weight maintenance, and exercise goals.
Protein is only one essential nutrient in your diet and it is necessary to keep in mind the big picture of nutrition and the importance of balancing protein with your carbohydrate and fat intake. 
Course outline   

  • An overview of protein 
  • Your protein requirement
  • Your protein requirement in terms of real food
  • Fitting protein into your diet  

An overview of protein

Proteins are organic compounds composed of amino acids. While your body can make many of the amino acids required to make body proteins, there are 9 essential amino acids which your body cannot make.
These essential amino acids must be obtained from the food you eat. 
Protein in the food that you consume is broken down by enzymes into amino acids and small peptides during digestion. The small peptides and individual amino acids are absorbed into your body. 
Amino acids from digestion, along with amino acids your body produces, are primarily used to make your body proteins which have many different functions in your body. 
For example, the protein haemoglobin transports oxygen from your lungs to all tissues in your body.  Another type of protein, insulin, is necessary for maintaining blood glucose levels and delivering glucose to muscle cells. 
Amino acids may also be used as a source of energy, but their contribution as an energy source is usually only about 5 -10% of your total energy requirement. 
However, during fasting or when there is insufficient carbohydrate and/or fat in your diet, amino acid contribution to your energy requirement can increase. 
Protein can be obtained from a wide variety of food sources which include:...link to the full article to learn more.


Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
Barr, S. I (2007) Human Nutrition over the life span