Protein… Quite a buzzword at the moment and something which many people think they should be packing in as much as possible. The truth is protein can be overdone and cause detrimental effects. Whilst the media and the food industry are doing a great job at selling protein (and don’t get me wrong it’s absolutely essential as part of a healthy balanced diet) it is important that you understand a little bit more about this macronutrient….
How much should you be consuming?
For the average sedentary individual you should be consuming around 0.8g per kg body weight. E.g. a 70kg person would require 56g of protein per day. For those of you who are keen exercisers this can increase to around 1.2g-1.6g per kg body weight although unless you’re a growing teenager, an elite athlete or a seriously avid gym go-oer you shouldn’t need much more than this.
Is all protein equal?
Absolutely not. Is the short answer! Plant proteins have a lower bioavailability than animal proteins. This means less of the protein can be absorbed and utilised in the body. Most plant proteins also don’t contain a complete amino acid profile. There are 9 essential amino acids (these are the building blocks of protein) this means they must be consumed within the diet. Animal sources tend to contain many more (if not all) of these amino acids where as plant sources must be consumed on rotation to ensure that you’re obtaining all of your essential amino acids.
What about protein shakes?
Protein shakes can be really convenient and helpful to ensure you hit your protein requirements, especially if you’re following a vegan diet. Ensure you’re buying protein powders with no added fillers, artificial sweeteners or sugars. Try and consume your post workout protein with a source of carbohydrates as this will help to increase the absorption of the protein.
How will protein affect my appetite?
Protein will help to slow the release of carbohydrates into the blood stream which will help to keep you fuller for longer. Protein also has the highest thermic effect of feeding (TEF) when compared to carbohydrates and fats. This mean that protein requires the most amount of energy to be broken down. Consider all the amino acids which first have to be separated before they can be used.
What happens if I consume too much protein?
Excess protein consumption over a prolonged period of time can lead to increased risk of kidney disease due to the nitrogen which is produced during the metabolism process. It’s also important to know that the body can’t digest more than around 20g protein in one go and therefore consuming large amounts of protein in one sitting isn’t beneficial!
Overall, protein is vital for our overall health – it plays a role in transport, cell structure, skin, hair, nails, muscle recovery, bone health, strength and the list continues although I wanted to shed some light on exactly how you should approach protein. If you found this helpful please sign up to my newsletter here to get weekly article updates.