Like all trends in nutrition, there are only a few pointers that most nutritionists\health professionals will abide by. One of them is not on protein requirements.
From our stand point, “ Sports performance, body fat reduction, muscle gain” etc. all have a specific protein demand. So to make this article as simple as possible to gain some good take-homes, we will list off the importance of protein, benefits and recommendations based on solid research.
When most people think of protein, they think muscle tissue, which obviously has a positive link. Protein supplies the main building blocks to the growth of new muscle. When we digest protein sources (meat, eggs, dairy etc.) these foods are broken down to their most basic form called amino acids. Amino acids are the simplest form of protein and are necessary in abundance for day to day function, which most people kind of know, but where we fall down is the how often and how much and which source.
If you can imagine, the most basic processes needed by the body through protein, like building new eyes, building new liver, repairing tissue when damaged and making neurotransmitters like serotonin, you can probably guess the last thing your protein wants to do is make this “expensive, as in costs a lot of protein” new muscle tissue. We need quite a lot of protein to get past these most basic necessary functions of protein.
The amount of protein we recommend our clients to consume per day, regardless of sex, age or goal is an absolute rock bottom basic of 30grams three times per day.
The reason for the 30grams per meal is the response the body gives us, which is the activation of our anabolic systems, or growth. Note: Muscle tissue is our main tissue involved in “burning fat”.
It has been shown in order to optimize this system we need our doses spread into 3-4 opportunities per day. A good way for those with low appetites is to mix protein sources during meals, an example of this could be a chicken breast, which is roughly 22grams of protein with 100ml of greek yogurt for the remainder of the 30grams.
One of the other benefits to a higher protein diet is that the body prefers to use fat and carbohydrates as a fuel supply, so leaves the important structural work to the protein at first then elevates body temperature, which in turn helps increase our metabolism. That’s not to say that protein doesn’t lend itself to our calories, it does! But it’s the most metabolically active substrate.
Although we’ve given 90 grams per day in 3 equal doses per day, this is the bare minimum you should consume. According to Dr Layman, a former Nutrition Professor and Research Scientist at the University of Illinois, doses of up to 2.5-3grams/Kg bodyweight per day are safe and effective in controlling fat loss, normalising blood sugar levels and making new lean muscle tissue.
Lastly, the protein source, animal protein is by fat the best source of protein, due to the high levels of specific amino acids, remember these essential building blocks, especially one amino acids called Leucine, which is in high amounts in animal products and not so much in veggie sources.
An example of this would be 2.5grams of this amino acid Leucine in 140grams of beef versus 100grams of pumpkin seeds needed for the same amount. The problem here is the overall daily calories needed (225 calories in the beef and 560 calories of seeds for the same job) and this is just one amino acid.
The cost in terms of calories is so great that the benefits would be far less.
Hopefully this short article clears up any misconception about protein intake and its importance!