Protein is a macronutrient containing amino acids needed by the body to carry out a number of vital functions. This includes building and repairing the tissues, muscles, skin, cartilage and bones, as well as making important chemicals such as hormones and enzymes.
Unlike fat and carbohydrates, protein can’t be stored in the body, so it needs to be regularly replenished. Protein deficiency is relatively uncommon in the western world, but many people could benefit from consuming better quality sources.
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How much protein do you need?
Recommended protein levels depend on your age and how active you are. Very young children only need around five ounces daily, but adult males and females should aim to consume around six ounces per day.
Protein is a valuable nutrient for bodybuilders, as it can help to build and repair muscle when combined with other factors such as exercise and rest periods. Protein foods also fill you up, so you’re less likely to snack and put on weight in-between meals. As a rough guideline, if you’re looking to build muscle mass, you should consume 1.4-1.8g of protein per kg of body weight daily. Spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day.
Too much protein
As a crucial component of the body, many people may assume that following a high protein diet is a good thing but you should exercise caution. Too much protein, combined with a low carbohydrate diet, can cause the body to burn fat stores in a process called ketosis. This can result in a loss of fluids in the body. Excess protein also causes the body to excrete extra calcium in urine, which could harm bone health. Kidney problems can also result from protein overload.
Healthy protein sources
Not all protein sources are healthy, so it’s important to choose carefully. Processed or red meat, for instance, contains high levels of calories and saturated fat, increasing your risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and even some types of cancer.
Fortunately, there are plenty of protein sources to choose from to include in a healthy and varied diet. Opt for fish or good quality lean meat, such as chicken or turkey, without the skin. Vegetarians can also get all the protein they need by eating eggs, wholegrain foods, nuts, pulses, beans, soya, tofu and dairy products.
What about protein powders?
Protein powders are a popular choice amongst exercisers, especially bodybuilders. Containing whey protein, they are rapidly absorbed into the body to improve muscle mass, increase energy levels and boost metabolism. They are frequently used before or after a workout to replenish or repair muscles. Although protein powders, drinks, bars and capsules are a handy supplement and deserve a place in any gym-goers repertoire, they shouldn’t be used as a substitute for natural protein from food. Choose good quality powders from reputable suppliers – but don’t go too mad, as excessive use of powders may lead to kidney stones.
It’s clear that protein plays a vital role, assisting healthy body functions and helping those looking to get in good shape down at the gym. For further supplementary assistance, why not take a look at the high-quality protein products available from Worldwide Anabolics?