Together with carbs and fats, protein is a macronutrient which means your body needs relatively large mounts of it. You store carbs as glycogen in your muscles and liver, you store fat underneath your skin, but there is no storage of protein which your body can go to when it needs it. That’s why it’s so important to get some protein in with every meal.
It’s a no brainer- everyone knows (or at least should, but I’m not judging) that you need protein to build muscle. But have you ever thought you need protein to both build and maintain muscle mass? If you want to find out what’s the hype on protein, keep reading as I will break it down for you so you can get a good idea on why everyone needs it, including you too.
Protein is the second most abundant compound in human body, following water. Most of it would be muscle, skin, blood, and bones. This itself should make you think that providing your body with protein is crucial. It also provides around 10-15% of energy to your body and this can go up if you don’t consume enough of other nutrients.
Think about this- you’re trying to lose weight, you cut off some foods you were eating to get into caloric deficit. What happens?
You start losing weight, HOORAY!
But wait! You wish it was that simple, don’t you? What really happens is you start losing water, glycogen storages get depleted, and your body starts consuming any reserves to keep functioning. This means getting into fat storages we want to get rid of but also our muscles.
Yes, sadly our bodies break down muscle tissue to get energy as well *sigh*
That’s why when you look at someone very lean, you can see they aren’t really muscular. They are simply low on body fat so their muscles start showing (no matter what size they might be.) Muscles are always there, the only difference in whether you see them or not is the body fat level.
In order to avoid it, you need to provide enough protein for your body to maintain or build muscle on top of managing carbohydrates and fats (according to your goals.)
What’s the recommended daily intake? Well, here it gets problematic due to all the recommended daily intake guidelines but I’m here to make things easier.
Aim to get around 0.8g per pound of bodyweight (that’s about 1.7g per kilogram.) It’s a decent level that everyone should be aiming for that would enable you to keep the muscle you worked so hard to get. With such amount there is also no need to worry that it would affect your digestive track (unless you have any prior health conditions.)
I’ve recently read that the current protein consumption in the UK is 88g for a male and 64g for a female. The article proudly stated that this is more than sufficient for an average person and it actually exceeds the Dietary Reference Values for protein.
88g for a male. To put things in perspective- I aim to eat 50g-60g of protein per meal, five times a day. That gives me something around 250g per day. Compare it to the 88g and you’ll why I’m surprised.
Before you lose your shit- I’m no a pro bodybuilder, I’m a middle aged male who is physically active and this is simply what my body needs to be able to build some muscle. My caloric surplus is around 200 calories meaning I could be eating even more protein if I wanted to grow more aggressively! Now think about pro bodybuilders getting these numbers up to 350g-400g or even more… you get the idea.
Now, I understand that not everyone is a bodybuilder or that maybe you don’t want to get TOO BIG while dieting but trust me, you WON’T. Tell you what- there are millions of people trying extremely hard to get bigger with no result and there you are afraid that eating more protein will harm you?
Really? You believe that?
It takes days, weeks, months, and years of hard work and dedication for that to happen so don’t worry. Instead, focus on providing your body with enough nutrients it needs on daily basis to stay healthy and strong for life.
(pssst. hey! let me tell you a secret- if you’re thinking right now that I’m telling everyone to eat more protein and train in the gym you’re bloody right I am! I strongly believe everyone on this planet should be using strength training to battle the effects of ageing. It’s a common misconception to think that we stay the same, or ‘maintain’ our physical bodies. You get older every moment, every minute, every hour, every day, which also means you get weaker. Simple takeaway from this is- you either work hard to get stronger or you get weaker by doing nothing; there is no in between.)
I sometimes catch myself wondering what’s the best source of protein. I decided to leave a list of 6 best choices below so you have a reference (even though I know you’re really smart and conscious about it 🙂
- Whole grains
Good thing about protein-rich foods is that they will make you feel fuller than foods rich in carbohydrates or fat. Including a lean source of protein with a meal can help to minimise feelings of hunger and decrease overall energy intake.
There you have it!
Hope you got some useful information from the above. If there is anything you disagree with, that’s good! Disagreements create opportunities to discuss and connect which is why I do it in the first place.
If you’d like to get in touch with any questions about protein or anything else feel free to visit my website and get in touch!