Consuming protein is the “hip” thing to do in today’s world. It’s advertised and fortified everywhere, from health bars, cereals, supplements and even water.
People need to consume some protein in their diet. But exactly how much, when or where is up for debate.
The following are some quick facts and tips to follow when consuming protein.
Protein has three main purposes: replace or degrade ineffective proteins already in a person’s body, provide energy, or to gain individual amino acids for synthesis of other compounds.
These three processes are vital to the function and growth of the human body.
Protein is made up of a chain of amino acids; there are 20 amino acids in total.
Of these 20, there are only nine essential amino acids that a person’s cells cannot produce. Because of this, it’s important to focus on eating a complete source of protein, or one that has all nine essential amino acids present.
The amount of grams of protein one should eat varies based on activity level, but as a general rule of thumb the average individual should consume 0.8 grams per kilogram of protein to body weight daily.
Strength athletes should consume 1.6-1.7 grams per kilogram of protein to body weight daily and endurance athletes 1.2-1.8 grams per kilograms.
These athletes need more to help repair damaged tissue and to replenish the protein they utilized as energy.
It is suggested that a person consume five meals per day, with four of those meals spaced evenly throughout the day and containing 0.3 grams per kilogram of protein to body weight with one last meal right before bed containing 0.6 grams per kilogram of protein to body weight.
This is because muscle protein synthesis is greatest while someone is sleeping. In addition to this, ingestion of protein before and after exercise can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis, or muscle building; more than just exercise alone, improving your training results.
A quick tip for performance is to drink one cup of chocolate milk after a workout as it contains eight grams of protein and the magic number of 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, which a person needs to refuel their body after an intense workout.
Finally, protein is abundant in sources of animal meat like tuna which contains 25 grams per 3 ounces.
However, a vegetarian can still get plenty of protein through dairy products like cottage cheese, which contains 14 grams per half cup.
Additionally, there are still protein sources available for vegans such as Navy Beans containing 20 grams per 1 cup.
While it is suggested to get ones dietary needs from whole foods, if that is not possible, one can always supplement in whey protein as an addition to a diet, but it should not become a meal replacement.