Ok, so everyone knows that more protein in your diet is good for you right? But do you know why or how this works? It’s so easy to get swept up in new health trend without knowing the science or controversy behind them. So before you reach for your next protein shake makes sure you are confident that it is the right choice for your fitness regime.
Why it’s important?
Protein is essential because our body needs it to make hair, skin, and nails. We also need to it repair our muscles and to make the hormones that make up our bodies messaging system. Without protein, our bodies don’t function correctly, and we can feel tired and drained.
What is protein?
Protein is made up of amino acids. This is what our body is constructed from at a molecular level; that is why they are so vital to our health and functioning. Some amino acids the body can manufacture itself. But some we need to take in form food. This is why’s it so important to get the right amount of protein in your diet. If we do not have the required amount of these amino acids in our blood, then our bodies cannot function at optimal health.
Complete and Incomplete
Remember too that there are different type of proteins. Complete ones have the entire essential amino acids chains that your body need to function correctly. You can get these from meat, fish and soy. While nuts and seeds and some legumes have high amounts of protein, it is important to note that they are often incomplete. This means that they don’t contain everything that our body needs for optimum performance.
Unlikely source of protein
While we often think of beef steaks as the best natural way to consume protein, chicken is actually much better gram for gram. Also, some cheeses has a lot of protein like Parmesan, so you can easily vary the way you get try protein into your diet.
Why is good for you?
Protein is particularly good for fitness and weightloss.
For fitness we need to be able to rip and then quickly repair our muscles, this is what builds muscle tone and size. Having a diet high in protein allows up to do this.
If you are wondering how to lose weight, then protein can help you. This is because it is very filling. Comparatively, we need smaller amounts of protein to feel satisfied that carbohydrates. Also, protein is slow release, so it keeps you feeling full for longer. It also stops a big load of energy being released into your bloodstream in one big go. While this can sound like fun, a quick release leads to an inevitably a quick crash. Which leaves you energyless and craving more carbohydrates.
In addition, a body with a higher muscle composition is a more efficient body. It will burn more calories. This is because it takes more energy to fuel the greater muscle mass. That makes weight maintenance easier.
Also, most people know that protein is essential for repairing lean muscle. So as you are exercising it is important to take enough in to allow your body to build new muscles.
Others see protein as an essential part of reaching a state called ketosis. This is when your bodies PH level falls, and while many diets swear this is crucial to shift your body into fat burning mode. It case cause problems with your kidneys and with dehydration and make you generally feel not too good!
How much should you take?
While we can survive on little protein, we actually need quite a bit to be at our best health possible. For a non-training adult, you would need about .36 g of protein per pound of your weight. So a 200-pound man would need a minimum of 159g a day. The amount you need with differs depending on your weight, sex, the amount of activity you do and the goals you are working towards. If this is all getting a bit overwhelming, use a protein calculator like this one here to make it easier.
Remember too that your protein levels rise and fall during the day, depending on what and when we have eaten. So make sure to eat smaller regular amounts of protein through the day to keep the levels up in your system. Some experts even go so far as to suggest that you should have something proteinus at every meal.
Why it’s controversial?
The problem with protein is that there is a lot of conflicting advice on what sort we should eat, how much we should eat and what we should eat it with.
Some fitness experts believe that we should eat protein supplements. This is because they are a low fat and easy way of consuming a higher protein ration in our diets. They believe that this can lead to better muscle performance and definition.
Others believe that it is perfectly acceptable to increase our protein intake through the consumption of whole foods. These include meat, fish, and legumes. These are all foods, which have naturally higher levels of protein. Some experts argue that our bodies can much better digest and process protein in its natural and unprocessed forms.
The amount of protein that we should consume is also controversial. Partly fueled by the explosion of protein filled recipes on the internet such as this. It’s easy to think that everything we eat should be infused with protein. However, its is important to measure your protein consumption against your current weight and the amount of exercise that your do. Like any other nutrient that your body takes in if you are eating too much, you body will not be able to burn it and will turn it into fat.
Also one of the most controversial aspects of eating more protein is what you combine it with. Many experts suggest that you need to combine protein and carbohydrates. This is because carbohydrate can help release the nutrition and allow your body to absorb it.
Yet others favor a food combining approach, where starches and proteins should not be eaten at the same time. This is because they believe that the stomach becomes stressed when it’s has to digest both. So keeping to either protein or starch with green leafy vegetables makes it easier for your body to cope with.
Pre or post workout and why?
The general advice at the moment seems to be that you should refuel your body with protein after a workout, hence the popularity of the bars and shakes. However, this article on breakingmuscle.com highlights that this evidence could have been based on flawed logic. Coach Anthony Roberts points out that when post workout shake users exercised on an empty stomach and then took protein, their muscle building capabilities went up. But this should be more to do with the intake of food that it being actually being protein. Follow the link for a more indepth discussion.
Is it safe?
Another issue with protein and increasing your consumption is the question of whether it is safe to do so. Protein is processed by the liver and a massive increase in the levels you’re having can put stress on this and other organs. Think back to the Atkins controversy. Although they have changed their eating plan now, the initial plan was all about protein. Some diets following the plan reported health issues because of this.
In addition, for those of you favoring protein powders you need to be sure of what is in them and where the protein is coming from. For instance, many standard powders are not low fat, which is fine if you are aiming to build muscle. But not if you want to get cut, because you will need a low body fat ration, to be able to see your six pack.
Also, most commercial protein powders are made from whey. This is a byproduct from the cheese-making industry. So anyone with a lactose intolerance should think twice about consuming this on a regular basis
Another controversy that whole food enthusiasts out there highlights is that protein powders are often so processed that we can’t absorb them. So instead of feeling our bodies, the body can’t do anything with them, and this can cause toxicity which sometimes leads to illness.
Of course, powders can include flavorings GMOS and soy as well. Soy has been linked to gaiters and problematic hormonal changes in males. So is something we should be thinking carefully about before consuming increased amounts of.
One of the most worrying things about protein powders is that in an American study they showed they some included heavy metals. These are known poisons! Were talking lead and arsenic here people! Remember that the powders are not strictly regulated, and it’s very difficult to know exactly what is in each one.
Lastly, some salmon proteins are derived from the reconstitution of the bones and guts. This would normally be deemed inedible by the food industry. If you are health conscious is this really something you want to be fueling your body with?