Let’s talk about protein, the benefits and why it appears everywhere on a health bar/diet product/cereal/drink/advert.
Skip this next nerd section if you just want to read about why protein can help you lose weight.
Basic requirements: Essential to our survival and falls under 1 of the 3 Macro nutrients our body uses for energy and function [Fats and Carbohydrates being the other two]. Protein is used in the body for many processes, the most commonly known process being muscle repair and growth. However you will find protein within every cell of our body and is primary component found in our skin, muscles, organs and glands – everywhere essentially. Protein helps the body repair cells and make new ones. But, still I picture only a chicken breast and protein shake lol
Basic science: Protein is made up of building blocks called Amino Acids – or what I like to imagine as Lego pieces. These lego pieces are 20 in total and there are multiple combinations of these 20 found in each variety of food. So, Protein found in chicken is different lego pieces to say a chick pea protein. Please do not actually eat Lego pieces haha I can almost guarantee there are no protein found in these toys.
The Body: Needs protein. It can produce some of the 20 Amino acids by self production in the liver to synthesise however there are 9 that we just cannot produce – the 9 are called Essential Amino Acids and these are found in your meats, eggs, dairy, soy-foods, quinoa an buckwheat. Other protein sources may have close to the 9 but not all 9. Protein makes up about 18-20 percent of the body’s weight!
Protein is everywhere!
Protein is associated with the fitness industry because of its ability to help repair cells and promote muscle growth. You will find protein bars, protein mouse, protein pancakes, protein peanut butter, protein cereal, protein Mars bars, protein yoghurt and i’m expecting we will find protein water on our supermarket shelves soon enough (EDIT – This is a thing now, Protein Water in the form of Collagen water – called it!!) Normal food isn’t enough, the protein option is better for you, right?
Protein is married with the health and fitness industry now that it is seen as healthy or health conscious to eat the high protein option. I would never suggest this but it is a great option to increase your protein intake – and that is about it. These additives with Whey protein or Vegan protein is just that – additives and not your best bang for your buck when it comes to protein. (if you are in interested in reading more on this please read my IG post below).
Personally, I always believe the best option is the natural state of protein – meats, eggs, dairy, soy-foods, quinoa and buckwheat/grains etc. Too much actual protein can be lost in the production process of protein additives like we see in bars and pancakes.
Why should I get more protein?
Protein is essential for our body but it can also help with fat loss and muscle gain – which is amazing.
Fat – loss: Primarily satiety. The feeling of fullness and satisfied. Protein from wholefood sources can promote satiety and suppress the feelings of hunger for some time. Please don’t confuse this with Protein shakes – shakes are fast absorbing into the body and have less of an impact on satiety. In addition, Protein has a higher Thermic Effect on Food (TEF) meaning your body burns a fair bit of calories just process protein (approx 30% or protein cals).
Protein and working out regularly with weights can help us maintain our physical shape when in a calorie deficit. When shedding the weight we want to make sure we are burning fat, not protein. We can limit this as best we can by maintaining plentiful amounts of protein to promote muscle preservation. I prefer Fat-loss as opposed to weight-loss.
If you are looking to drop a dress size or two I usually suggest forgetting about the Carbs and fats (make sure you get enough of course) but focus on a calorie deficit and hitting a protein intake of 1g of protein per 1lb of your desired body weight.
Muscle gain: Essential for muscle repair and growth. Like a house made out of Lego, if we don’t have enough bricks, we don’t build the house. We need protein for muscle growth. Timing is complex subject but regular protein intake throughout the day is advised. I like to use 1g or protein per 1lb of your desired body weight [some advise 4g per kg of current body weight – this is all personal opinion]. Getting in enough can be tough, you have to live that Portuguese/Brazilian lifestyle of meat on meat, expecting a stiff jaw…not fun! Or, go Vegan, it’s definitely possible and advised for our beautiful earth …just expect the amount of food to increase with a vegan diet to achieve protein requirements.
People usually ask me what “How much protein should I get in with each meal?”. From my reading, to activate MTOR – the process that kick starts protein synthesis -It looks like you can successfully consume between 0.25-0.45g of protein per Kg of your weight.
i.e. 80kg client should look to get between 20g and 36g per meal.
I hope this article has helped, please leave a comment or question. Thanks!