The importance of protein in diet has been clearly established by nutritional scientists, and widely accepted by athletes. Among other vital functions, protein is indispensable for creating muscle. Just as important is protein's essential ability to repair damaged muscles after training[i].
While the value of protein in diet has been accepted and promoted within the athletic community, it has been less well disseminated within the very large sedentary population. Currently making up about 25% of Americans[ii] - or 1 in every 4 people - sedentary people are defined as those who undertake less than half an hour of moderate physical activity per day[iii].
A key problem to solve, therefore, is that the bulk of these sedentary Americans do not know that they are, or more likely are not, getting enough protein in their diet. This large group of sedentary people reflects the myth that protein-rich nutrition is important only for athletes and those who are physically active. The Reference Daily Intake amount for protein is 50 grams, and most sedentary people are not coming close to meeting this standard.
Next to water, protein is the body's most prevalent substance. Protein is the essential building block for muscle and tissue, and vital for the functioning of critical systems, such as digestion. Protein even helps regulate and control hormones and chemicals that influence mood and coping ability something that has an impact for all people, regardless of physical exercise regimen. In fact, in the context of protein deficiency-related mood disorders, one may argue that a sedentary person on the dangerous road to obesity might be psychologically better equipped to implement a disciplined (e.g. healthy) eating plan if, among other key factors, a complete protein diet exited from the start.
Yet there is another related problem that is arguably more damaging. The little information that most Sedentary Americans are receiving about protein - snippets of facts here and there, mostly from marketers and advertisers - are often outright misleading. This is most clearly seen in the world of fast food.
Many sedentary Americans who have some basic awareness of protein's importance in diet believe, due largely to marketing campaigns, that fast food burgers are a "good source of protein". Lost in this belief is the fact that virtually all fast food burgers are almost thoroughly unhealthy choices that are high in saturated fat, calories, sodium, cholesterol, and the list goes on.
In fact, a popular burger contains 52% of the recommended daily value (DV) of fat, and over 500 calories, of which 60% are from fat. These clearly unhealthy factors diminish the nutritional value from the burger's 24 grams of protein.
It is largely due to this lack of information - and concurrent existence of misinformation -- that prevents many sedentary Americans from learning about the importance of protein. At the same time, it is also clear to medical experts that the concept of a sedentary lifestyle is a serious global health problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later[iv].
Addressing this problem is, like many chronic health conditions, complicated and multi-layered. Yet accepting this complexity is, in itself, a starting point for a solution one that must equally be multi-layered and holistic in approach. Awareness of protein must extend beyond the boundaries of the "fit and athletic" communities, and concurrently, ways for sedentary people to access protein must be developed ways that are entirely healthier than fast food burgers.
Despite the difficult and admittedly uphill battle that many sedentary Americans face today, there is reason to be rationally optimistic. There are products on the market that are providing balanced sources of complete protein, yet in responsible, low-calorie and fat-free portions. Since these products are fortified with vitamins and nutrients, they can be utilized as either a supplement or a complete meal replacement. This is of notable value for dieters and "time starved" individuals who are seeking quick, convenient ways to eat healthy.
Ultimately, resolving this problem of sedentary Americans will not be easy, nor will it be rapid. It has taken generations to create the statistic that 1 in 4 Americans lead sedentary lifestyles and it may take generations to unravel this knot. The hallmarks of unraveling it, however, are clear: quality awareness, quality understanding, and above all, quality nutritional products that consumers both demand, and indeed, thoroughly deserve from their food manufacturers.
 Formerly referred by its better-known name "Recommended Daily Allowance".
 The USDA's recommendation is 30% calories from fat
[i] Source: "The Power of Protein". The Physician and Sportsmedicine. http://www.physsportsmed.com/issues/1996/04_96/protein.htm
[ii] Source: "What We Think is Making Us Fat". About.com. http://walking.about.com/cs/howtoloseweight/a/obesitycause404.htm
[iii] Source: "Cost and Consequences for Sedentary Living: New Battleground for an Old Enemy". Presidents Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. http://www.fitness.gov/researchdigestmarch2002.pdf
[iv] Source: "Sedentary Lifestyle: a Global Public Health Problem". The World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/hpr/physactiv/sedentary.lifestyle1.shtml
Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm with offices in Lafayette Hill and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Protica manufactures capsulized foods, including Profect, a compact, hypoallergenic, ready-to-drink protein beverage containing zero carbohydrates and zero fat. You can learn more about Protica at www.protica.com -- Information on Profect is available at www.profect.com
Copyright 2004 - Protica Research
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