The Truth about Protein – Part 1
Are you getting the optimal amount of protein? Chances are you’re nowhere near. Protein is the single most important nutrient for normal body function. It’s responsible for repairing tissue, building muscle and so many other body functions. Protein is the building blocks your body needs to survive and thrive! The list could go on and on, but what you need to know is that protein is critical for optimal body composition as well as health. If you’re after a lean physique, or just want to lose weight, protein could be why you’re not seeing results.
Let’s break protein down a bit: Firstly, a gram of protein as about 4 calories. However these calories are completely different to calories from carbohydrates (which also contain 4 calories per gram). The calories in protein are broken down by the body at a much slower rate. This creates what has been coined the ‘thermogenic effect’. This is when the body has to work harder to digest the food. In doing this it burns more energy just digesting the food, which inevitably means more calories burned. The result, more fat loss and more lean muscle. Looking at it this way, you could not get fat from eating too much protein, it’s impossible, but a protein only diet is not recommended for long term metabolic health. Moreover, because the body has to work harder to break protein down, metabolic rate is increased, which is essentially what we have just discussed, but in technical terms. Body temperature rises and you will feel warmer and sweat more as a result. If you’re always cold, protein could be your best friend!
Without further going into too much detail about the importance of protein, here is a simple list of what a high-protein diet can do for you:
- More fat loss
- Increased muscle mass
- Better sleep
- Better brain and cognitive function
- Long lasting, sustained energy
- Improved immune health
- Higher metabolic rate
- Better recovery from training
- And so much more…
How Much Protein do I Need?
Now, you many ask, how much protein do I need exactly. That question has a different answer for each individual. A starting guideline and one that most people should be shooting is at least 1g per kg of bodyweight. This is the very minimal amount you should be consuming on a daily basis, if you’re serious about your health and about building a nice body, then this is by no means the optimal amount. In fact, consuming 1.5-2g per kg of bodyweight is what is recommended. This is what you would call a high protein diet and it’s how our ‘caveman’ ancestors ate. For general health and optimal wellbeing, this is a good dosage. If your goal is all out fat loss on a bigger scale and you want it fast, then a dose of 3-4g per kg of bodyweight may be more suitable. For muscle building on huge scale, the dosage is about the same. Just be sure to listen your body when it comes to consuming this much protein.
As a normal guideline for optimal body composition (low bodyfat percentage and high muscle mass), 1.5-2.5g per kg of bodyweight is right. So for an 80kg man, this would be about 120-200g of protein a day. Again, listen to your body.