Let's start with… What is protein and what does it do?
Protein repairs, regenerates and creates tissues, enzymes and hormones. Protein breaks down to amino acids which are ESSENTIAL to EVERY cell in the body. When there is an insufficient amount of amino acids in your body, your body will struggle to support the maintenance of bone and muscle tissue.
In fact, if you are lacking in protein you may also:
- Lack in energy or feel fatigue
- Have mood swings and/or feel anxious
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Have unstable blood sugar levels
- Have difficulty losing or maintaining weight
- Sleep poorly
- And/or you may even be susceptible to fragile nails and damaged hair
How much protein do I need to consume each day then?
1.6g-2.4g per kg of bodyweight is said to be a sufficient amount of protein.
For example, a person weighing 60kg:
1.6 x 60 = 96g protein per day à this is the approximate amount of protein for a person doing NO exercise.
2.4 x 60 = 144g protein per day à this is the approximate amount of protein for a person doing REGULAR weight training sessions.
Alright so I see what can happen if I'm lacking in protein and I know how much I need to consume, but why do I really need protein? How can protein assist with my training performance and goals?
There are more benefits of protein than you may think.
When a person consumes a meal, energy is expended to digest the meal and absorb the nutrients. This is known as the thermic effect of food. Out of the three macronutrients; carbohydrates, proteins and fats, protein requires the most amount of energy to breakdown and digest. Because of the higher amount of energy used during this breakdown process, protein can assist with weight management and/or weight loss.
Have you ever noticed how you feel after consuming a steak or a piece of chicken compared to consuming pasta alone? You remain fuller and more satisfied for longer when consuming a meal high in protein.
One reason you remain full for a longer period of time after consuming a protein high meal is due to protein's ability to help stabilise blood sugar levels. When you consume foods with a high Glycaemic Index (GI), your blood sugar levels will spike. Protein based foods have minimal effect on blood sugar levels, therefore prevent fluctuations. (i.e.: energy fluctuations) Stable blood sugar levels decrease unnecessary cravings and can be associated with preventing weight gain.
Remember above when I talked about how protein breaks down amino acids and that these are ESSENTIAL to EVERY cell in the body? Well! Amino acids also help to regulate hormones naturally and can therefore be associated with improving your mood. So… if you're feeling moody, get some protein into you!
P.S. GIRLS! Did you know that your hair and your nails are mostly made up of protein? Stronger hair and nails comes with the consumption of more protein!
Ok! I get it, protein has A LOT of benefits. But where can I get protein from?
Healthy meat protein options: Red meats such as lean cuts of pork and steak, white meat such as skinless chicken breast and lean turkey and fish such as salmon, tuna and barramundi.
Vegetarian protein options: Veggies such as mushrooms, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, kale… (Just think greens and you're definitely on track!), eggs, dairy products such as yoghurt, goats cheese and milk, whey protein powder.
Vegan protein options: Tofu, tempeh, amaranth, nuts, seeds, pea protein powder, soy milk, peanut butter, lentils, beans, see vegetables listed above.
Does it matter when I eat protein?
First of all, protein should be included with every meal. See below for a sample day where protein is included with every meal:
Breakfast: Oats, Chobani Greek yoghurt (naturally high in protein, no fat and low in sugar), strawberries
Morning Tea: Vita-weats with cottage cheese and tuna
Lunch: Wrap with shredded chicken breast, cheese, tomato, lettuce, carrot
Afternoon Tea: Protein smoothie: frozen berries, Vision protein powder, teaspoon of peanut butter and 250ml of milk
Dinner: Beef stir fry with broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, green beans, bean sprouts and capsicum
Second, within 30 minutes of completing a weights training session it is vital that 20-30g of protein is consumed in order to promote muscle tissue growth and also quick recovery and repair of these muscle tissues. Whey protein powder digests quickly so is an optimum protein source post workout, plus it is convenient! Remember, Vision Whey Protein Powder comes in many different flavours (chocolate, banana, vanilla, strawberry, mint choc, salted caramel - just to name a few!) and is a great way to easily boost your daily protein intake. With 23.4g of protein per 30g serving, you could add it to yoghurt, make protein balls or protein bars, add it to a smoothie or simply have it with a cup of milk or cold water.
Can too much protein be harmful to your body?
No! If you've heard that protein is harmful to your body… it is a myth…! Too much protein will not harm your body.
There have, however, been links between people with an existing kidney disease consuming a VERY high protein diet and then experiencing complications. Studies have still been inclusive in identifying how much protein is too much. The jury is still out!
So to summarise, for the average person, protein cannot harm your body. For anyone who does have an existing kidney disease, it is recommended you consult a doctor or nutritionist about a healthy eating plan for your body.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.