There are many reasons that Protein is needed as part of your diet. Firstly, protein is essential for tissue repair and muscle growth to maintain metabolism - for those who don't know what metabolism is, put simply it is the rate at which your body burns fat!
3 main factors contribute to metabolism:
- 15% Daily Activity
- 15% Thermogenic effect of food - calories it costs to eat
- 70% - Resting metabolism which is made up 20% organs, 80% Muscle Mass
If you think about it we can't grow our organs so it makes sense to increase our muscle mass to help increase resting metabolism and therefore total calories burnt in a day, week, month, year etc. just by resting, working, sleeping, watching TV, transport and so on.
So how do we increase muscle mass?
Basically, when we lift weights, we rip and tear muscle fibres. Our body is smart and understands it will need to improve next time we lift weights. So, it then repairs itself to become bigger and stronger to cope with the weight next time! This is where protein comes in as it is a building block of muscles. Without protein we can never recover, grow and get stronger in our muscles.
Protein also increases satiety. It is denser at a molecular level compared to carbohydrates. It is therefore harder to break down, keeping you fuller for longer and supressing cravings. How many times have you gone to the movies got a large popcorn and finished before the movie started and were still hungry and wanted more? Easy right, no protein means you break it down easy and don't feel full. If you filled that same bucket with 2kgs of chicken, do you think you could finish it? No way, more protein means harder to breakdown and making you feel full!
When should we have protein?
Our body can't store protein so it's important to have it included in every meal. Males can absorb 50-70g per meal and females 30-50g. Remember if you decrease your carbs during the day your protein intake should increase to counteract the calorie deficit. This is why you always go higher protein on an accelerator day.
Some easy sources to find protein include.
Meat - beef 30g/100g, chicken22g/100g, pork, seafood, turkey and kangaroo. Just remember the whiter the meat the leaner cut. Chicken and turkey are leaner than beef or lamb.
Dairy - Yoghurt, Cheese, Milk, etc. Just remember that low fat options are good here to avoid being over fat targets. Also, beware of carbs as well. Things like skim milk have had the fat taken out but then has sugar added to make it taste better.
Supplements - protein powders and protein bars. Easy source when needed a protein hit as a snack, but also post workout or even adding in with yoghurt and fruit!
Non-animal products include Pea/brown rice/soy protein powders, tofu which has 17g/100g, rice and beans, seitan and quinoa. Just be aware of the carbs in some of these products such as quinoa and beans.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.