Protein is important for our health due to it being essential for all cells in the body. When working out, you create micro-tears in your muscles, and protein helps repair those tears as it contains amino acids, the building blocks to rebuilding muscle tissue. Want to know how much to take? Read on for our article, Protein: 4 Keys to Know How Much You Really Need!
1. What is Protein and Why Does Our Body Need it?
Protein helps with building your bones, cartilage and skin and it’s required in blood to help transport hormones, lipids and vitamins. Did you know that your hair and nails are mostly made of it? It is a significant factor when it comes to health and fitness but it’s important to know that you can’t just eat as much as you like because excess protein is stored in your body as fat and saved as fuel for a later date.
2. How Much Should You Consume Per Day?
Approximately 1.2g-1.7kg per kilogram of bodyweight. So, for example, I weigh 90kg and I’m currently aiming to build muscle so I consume 144g of protein (1.6g x 90kg) due to lifting heavier weights. It means that my muscle tissue is going to have more micro-tears so I need to consume more than previously to allow my muscles to recover and build more muscle mass.
A good starting point is to consume around 1.2g x your bodyweight in kg and see what happens after 2-4 weeks. You can use a device or reader available at most gyms which will measure your body fat and lean muscle mass.
Seeing a decrease in muscle mass means you should then increase it to 1.4-1.5g. Alternatively if you see a massive increase in body fat as well as muscle mass then perhaps it’s a good idea to decrease to 1.2g. Here, your body is basically saying that’s too much and any excess gets stored as fat.
3. Where Do You Get it From?
If you don’t want to eat meat or animal products, lentils are great and can be used in soups and curries. Tofu, tempeh, peanuts and chickpeas have a good amount of protein to help you hit your daily target.
Vegetables such as broccoli and kale have more protein than you think but a really good source would be your whole grains like rice and bread, they are natural sources and also contain the vitamins as well, always a good thing! Eggs and milk are also good sources.
Of course another option which has become a massive trend in recent years is protein powder. Available from various outlets they can yield anywhere between 19g-25g of protein per scoop but I must STRESS that this is a supplement and if you can, you should try and get all your protein from food. But if you’re busy and constantly on the go, a protein shake is a great fix to help you reach your protein intake goal.
Animal products tend to have good amounts of protein. Lean cut meats such as chicken, fish and turkey are low-fat, high-protein, this will be adequate for most diets. Avoid red meat due to the increased IGF-1 animal proteins that would be consumed, which is linked to a raised risk of cancer.
4. Watch “The Game Changers” Documentary
The presenter James Wilks says you can get almost as much protein in a peanut butter sandwich as you can in 3oz (85g) of grass-fed beef. Two and a half tablespoons of peanut butter gives 12g of protein, two pieces of whole grain bread yield 4g each. So 2 x 4 is 8g plus the 12g from peanut butter makes 20g.
3oz of grass-fed beef yields anywhere between 18g- 21g, which really does make you think that you don’t just get protein from meat. This is a major eye-opener for a lot of people, encouraging them to start doing their own research on certain foods and really question what they are eating.