Protein is an essential element of a healthy diet. “It’s an essential nutrient,” says Anne Wolf, RD, registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Protein serves as a critical building block for cells and tissues throughout our body. “We need it for every function in our body — for healing purposes and for building muscles,” explains Wolf.

Protein is not only essential, it’s powerful! It can give you energy, add vitality to life and make you slim down! Some turn to high protein days in order to shed a few extra pounds but it’s important to make sure you give your body what it needs, and don’t overload on protein. A high protein diet is fine for a day or two, but longer periods of high protein is taxing on our system. A high protein also causes constipation so if you do increase your protein for a few days, make sure you also increase your fiber intake or supplements for constipation. Over did it? Click here for help!

Remember that a healthy balance of foods is your best bet for a healthy diet. Most women only need about 50 grams of protein per day, while men may need 60 to 70 grams — that works out to between two and three servings. But most people eat more than 120 grams of protein a day — that’s more than twice what we generally need!

Most think of meat when they think about protein, but this important nutrient actually comes in a number of different forms including whey, eggs, yogurt, beans and nuts. Read more on protein sources and it’s benefits.