Protein….the benefits and how much do I need?

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A selection of healthy foods rich in protein

What is protein?

Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Protein is found in hair, nails, bone muscles and cells and are involved in most functions within the body, therefore its pretty important we keep levels topped up right?! Protein rich foods include meats, fish, nuts and pulses, eggs, milk and yoghurt to name a few!

Benefits of protein….

1. Protein helps build lean muscle tissue by increasing protein synthesis building muscle an stunts protein degradation (breakdown) for several hours after consuming it. Therefore individuals who consume higher protein levels should have a larger muscle mass.

2. Protein helps suppress hunger, meaning if you are consuming a regular protein diet you should be able to reduce your portion size and have less urge to snack, reducing your overall calorie consumption and therefore assisting with weight loss.

3. Consuming a high protein diet will allow you to make substantial size and strength gains during weight training. If weight training helps you increase muscle mass and protein helps you increase muscle mass then together we have a lethal combination. Studies have shown that increasing protein intake by 65% move normal levels over a set period of time produces the greatest muscle development.

4. There are many other advantages which I’ll not go into detail about now but they include, improved bone density, improved cardiovascular health, better brain function and improved sleep.


How much protein should you consume?

The amount of protein you consume does depend on a number of factors including sex, age, weight, training type, training frequency to name a few. Use these rough rules to set a protein level for you……

  • If you are training regularly you want to be consuming 1.2-2g per kg of bodyweight – e.g. a 70kg individual should consume between 84-140g per day
  • If you are partaking in regular weight training you will be towards the upper limit of 2g per kg and if you have a more cardio approach to exercise you would be nearer the lower limit at around 1.5g per kg
  • If you are eating for weight loss again I would recommend roughly 1-1.5g per kg of body weight
  • If you are a strength or power athlete or a bodybuilder then you may be looking at up to 3.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight but that is a shed load of chicken!

So to summarise consuming protein is a fantastic way to improve body composition through muscle gain and fat loss. There are substantial health benefits from consuming protein as well as gains in strength and performance. Consume enough protein to reflect your weight, lifestyle and goals through a variety of protein sources to keep eating exciting and satisfying.

My next post will link back to this one and will discuss whether you should use protein shakes and other protein supplements so keep an eye of for that!




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