Protein is an essential nutrient that is often overlooked. The body needs it, not just for repairing and building body tissues, but also for building enzymes, immune system function, some hormones and even for transporting other nutrients around the body. Deprived of protein, your body may continue to feel hungry even if you have eaten enough calories from other sources.
Foods that are highest in protein include: meat, fish, poultry, eggs and tofu. Some people believe that lentils, nuts and dairy products also contain significant amounts of protein. They do contain protein, however, the levels are variable, and in nuts quite low. In fact nuts are mostly fat and lentils have more carbohydrate than protein. It is fine to include these alternatives as a source of protein so long as a balance is achieved.
The time of day that you eat protein can make a big difference too. Common choices at breakfast are high in carbohydrate and low protein. The classic example is a bowl of cereal or jam on toast. Sure it's quick to prepare but some people find it hard to make it through to lunch without the mid morning energy crash. Then the temptation to reach for sugary 'pick-me-up' foods and drinks is hard to resist. I discovered that I had more energy and better concentration when I increased my protein intake in the morning. Having said that, it's not the same for everyone. I have clients who happily last till lunch time on a bowl of oats.
By observing my own body's response to different food combinations I've realised answers to the question 'what should we eat?' can also come from day-to-day personal experience, not just science research. Equipped with some basic nutrition knowledge and diagnostics from your own body awareness you can discover the balance and timing that works best for you.