Protein – Overview

What is protein?

Protein is in all of us. It is in our skin, hair, bones and muscles. Over 10,000 different proteins are inside of us and similarly, protein is in other animals, plants and organisms. It is also a naturally occurring macronutrient found in the majority of food you eat.

Protein is made from amino acids. Of the 20 amino-acids that can be found in our body, 9 cannot be made by us and must be sourced through our diet. These we call “essential” amino acids and 3 of these essential amino acids (known as BCAAs: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine) are essential in order for your body to grow and repair.

When we train, our bodies need protein to repair. The process if using protein to repair and build muscle is called protein synthesis.

Why do you need protein?

The reason is the core concept of any sort of training; you break down muscle so the body can repair it, becoming stronger and bigger as a result and as discussed, protein synthesis is required for this.

Protein also has benefits in those trying to lose weight as diets high in protein have been shown to increase your metabolic rate and decrease appetite. Protein also only caries 4 calories per gram, compared to 9 calories per gram for fat. It is also incredibly heard to overeat protein.

So how much protein do YOU need?

Many studies have been done on the subject with varying results but the general consensus is that most adults require 0.8 grams of protein per kg of weight. For the average man, this equates to around 55g. For an average woman, around 45g. However, someone who does intense training may require up to around 1.7 grams of protein per kg of weight. This would mean somewhere between 120g-140g of protein for the average man and 95g-100g for the average woman. Elite athletes may even up their protein intake to 2g per kg of body weight. It does depend on your age/height/weight/exercise level and training goals.

This is a lot of protein, and although this can all be sourced through a well planned diet, people often opt to supplement their protein intake.

A common misconception is that our bodies will only absorb around 30g protein in one sitting. This study was done on testing nitrogen levels which drew a false conclusion. If you consume 50g protein, your body will consume it, it’ll just take a long time to digest and it may be uncomfortable! The same can be said for supplementing with whey. 50g whey could cause a mischief in your gut leaving you regretting your decision. The easiest way to get your protein is to consume around 20g-30g protein per meal.

How can you increase your protein intake?

Increase food consumption. Foods that are high in protein include lean meat, fish and seafood, eggs, milk, cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt, nuts and seeds, beans and pulses, soya. You can also supplement your protein intake with whey, casein, collagen or plant based protein supplements.

Further reading you may be interested in

  • Whey Protein
  • Plant (Vegan) Protein
  • Other Protein (Casein…)
  • Amino Acids
  • Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)