Why We Talk About It So Much
You’ve probably heard of macronutrients. If not lets re-cap. Macronutrients (often known as macros) are the 3 main energy containing nutrients found within our food. These include protein, carbohydrates and fats.
All 3 are essential in the diet but protein is certainly having its hay day at the moment and most of us are trying to optimise our intake.
Protein is essential for maintaining, growing and repairing body tissues such as muscle, bone and skin.
Its needed for the production of enzymes and hormones and is a key player in the functioning of our immune system as well as the transport of nutrients via the bloody stream.
In the context of body composition however protein is most commonly credited for its ability to help build and repair muscle tissues and a high protein diet is often useful when trying to lose weight/body fat. This is due to protein being associated with greater feelings of fullness and also the digestion of protein uses much more energy than the digestion of carbs and fats. Therefore protein contributes higher to what is known as the thermic affect of food. (Put simply, protein burns more calories during digestion than other nutrients).
UK dietary guidelines suggest 0.75g of protein per 1kg of body weight. For example this would mean a 70kg individual should aim to consume 52.5g protein per day. Active individuals, especially though who undergo resistance training however are recommended to consume more than this. This group should aiming for 1.4g - 2g of protein per 1kg of body weight, so if we use our 70kg example again this would mean a recommended protein intake of 98 -140g per day.
Those aiming to reduce weight and body fat or who are training/playing sports 3-5 times per week should opt for the higher end of this target.
To optimise absorption it is recommended to consume around 20-40g protein at a time and spread this throughout the day ever 3-4 hours approximately.
A good practice to get into when trying to increase protein is to firstly aim for a portion of protein at each meal and 1 snack per day.
Meat (including poultry) , fish (including seafood), eggs, dairy produce and soy are considered very good sources of protein. There are what are known as a complete protein, this means all 9 essential amino acids are contained with this food.
Other sources include seitan and wheat protein, pulses (lentils, chickpeas, peas), pea protein, nuts & seeds, Quorn and other meat alternatives.
It is important to include a wide variety of protein sources especially if you are plant based, vegetarian or vegan as often plant based proteins are “incomplete” proteins meaning they lack certain amino acids. What one source lacks however another includes so variety is essential to bridge any gaps.
If you need help figuring out your protein content, losing weight or balancing your diet get in touch about 1:1 coaching. Click here to arrange a time to chat.
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