The 411 On Protein
For anyone who exercises or diets and especially athletes the conversation eventually gets around to protein. How much, when to take, what type and what does it do for me?
Generally most dieticians recommend about 70 grams of protein a day from all food sources to sustain good health. For the average person this may be adequate, but lets say you are an athlete who trains intensely and therefore your body is constantly at a higher demand to recover and rebuild, or maybe you are trying to build more lean body mass. Even someone who is dieting to lose weight (body fat) will benefit from additional protein intake. A good rule of thumb and one I recommend is 1 gram of protein for every pound of weight. More on our diet philosophy.
When you consume protein your digestive system breaks it down into its amino acid components including eight which are essential (the body can’t make these itself). From here through protein synthesis the body takes what it needs to affect repairs, create enzymes and so on. Adequate protein intake ensures nitrogen balance which is imperative for proper protein synthesis. Also consider 20-25 percent of calories consumed from protein are spent in consuming, digesting and metabolizing the protein which is why protein is so effective for weight loss. By comparison only 4% of the calories from fat are used this way.
To get make sure you are giving your body what it needs try to spread your calories out throughout the day. Have some protein 25 -30 grams in each of your 3 meals and fortify the balance with snacks that are protein rich. Consuming upwards or 40-50 grams of protein at a
single serving is not recommended. Having protein with breakfast and lunch give you the added benefit of increasing alertness due to proteins affect on dopamine levels. So, if you have that 3o’clock crash, try having a protein bar or other lean high protein snack to ward it off.
So, what kind of protein should you consume? Clearly the most flavorful and satisfying are natural food sources such as lean beef, skinless chicken, turkey, fish, and soy. Low and moderately low carb protein shakes and bars are good in a pinch or for between meal snacks. A word of caution, keep their calorie count under 200 as many are too caloric. Whey protein is still the gold standard, but casein digests slower and keeps a constant stream of amino acids coming longer (definitely good for breakfast) and soy is now considered to have equal bio value and is therefore an excellent choice.