All You Need to Know About Protein and How It Will Build Muscle, Shed Excess Body Fat and Transform Your Physique.
Protein is the most under eaten macro nutrient I see when talking to clients or looking at their food diaries. This is a shame rotein is arguably the most important macro nutrient when it comes to improving your body composition.
You might be reading this as you want to know what works, what will fit into your lifestyle, suit your eating habits and transform your body. There is a ton of information out there which can be a complete mind field!!! So much so it causes frustration, confusion and doubt. You set out with good intentions, you improve your eatings habits then stop due to uncertainty, no real change in your body which leads to no results
The information I am going to share with you in this blog (and all future ones) is scientifically backed and evidence based. I’ve learned and studied from the best, I’ve cut through all the BS so you have a place where you can get solid information that is practical, actionable and will instantly help you.
This blog is going to simplify a complex subject and put a stop to any confusion you might have. I’m going to explain what Protein is, what it’s made of and the benefits of eating Protein from both a physiological and body composition standpoint. The amount an individual should aim to eat per day, high protein foods and show you an example day so you have something to refer to.
You’ll finish reading this blog with a greater understanding, with tools and strategies so you’re ready to take action and control your eating habits.
OK lets get to it….
So what is Protein? Protein is one of the 3 macro nutrients that make up the majority of your diet. Protein is made of tiny building blocks called amino acids. There are 11 non essential and 9 essential amino acids which make up complete or incomplete proteins based on their amino acid profile. A complete protein contains all 9 essential amino acids and an incomplete does not. I’ll get on to why eating complete proteins is important for muscle gain later.
Complete proteins are all animal based protein sources and contain all EAA in adequate amounts, incomplete proteins are deficient in at least one EAA and are usually plant based sources.
Eating enough Protein is hugely important for both health and improved body composition. Protein is an essential nutrient in that the body needs it to survive. Consuming sufficient amounts of Protein improves the function of the skeletal, muscular, and nervous system and is necessary for immune function. As well as assisting in the growth of healthy hair, nails and skin!
The benefits will drastically improve your physique and will probably have more of an effect than carbs and fats would. This is because:
Protein has a high thermic effect. The body uses more heat and energy to digest it which raises metabolism.
Protein gets stored in muscle tissue, the liver but not in fat tissue!
It increases muscle retention. More lean muscle tissue raises resting metabolism and you’ll naturally burn more calories at rest. (A solid training programme helps here too)
I know I said three main reasons. BUT Protein is a very satiating macro nutrient and has been shown to keep you fuller for longer which blunts cravings and prevents snacking.
Protein restores muscle tissue so you burn more calories at rest, protein raises metabolism when you consume it, it doesn’t get stored as body and keeps you full for long periods of time. That’s why eating sufficient Protein is such a game changer in helping to improve your body.
So now you know all the benefits of eating Protein, the next question is….. How much Protein should I eat?
The range of 0.8-1.2g per Ib of bodyweight has been shown to be enough to prevent deficiencies and support the high demands of elite athletes.
I like to shoot right down the middle and recommend 1g per Ib of BW. Chances are you’re way off this mark and bumping it up to 1.2g per Ib will be may too much. 1g per Ib is enough so you can enjoy a good steak on an evening out, it doesn't seem to cause digestion issues while taking a bulk of your calories.
You probably don't have a clue how much Protein you’re eating? Which is where hiring a coach or tracking comes in. If you’re want a bespoke Nutrition Plan that fits in with your lifestyle, is specific towards your goals and doesn’t have you sacrificing everything in the process, then reach out and Apply for Coaching.
If you don’t reach out, then of course I still want to help you. We’re now going to look into the highest Protein dense foods and an example day of Protein consumption.
High Protein Dense Foods
Meats (lean or fatty) Mince beef, steak, or wild game
Poultry. Chicken breast, turkey, eggs and egg whites
Seafood. Cod, Sword fish White fish and Tuna
Dairy. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and other cheeses
Beans and Lentils (vegetarian)
Tofu and Tempeh (vegetarian)
Protein powders. Whey, Casein, Pea, and Pumpkin.
Eat these in a wide variety on a weekly or bi weekly basis. Alternating your Protein sources avoids any deficiencies that build up from eating the same food all the time. Different foods contain different amino acid profiles, essentials fats and vitamins the body will benefit from.
So what would a day of an adequate protein intake look like? Lets take an example of a 77 kg (170 Ib) man who leads a sedentary lifestyle but goes to the gym 2-3 times a week and is active on the weekends. 1g per Ib of BW would be 170g of Protein per day for this person which I’ve broken down in the table below. I’m only covering Protein here and not listing a balanced meal with carbs and fats incase you think I’m saying just eat protein alone.
This is just an example and number of meals you eat needs to be taken into consideration. This is where individualised Nutrition comes in. If you eat three meals a day that’s fine, 6 smaller meals is OK as well. The important thing is that you can adhere to it and it’s not too far off the way you currently eat. As total daily Protein intake is what really counts and is what will get you the results you want.
You might want to add 10% of lean protein, or an extra half at each meal, or a post workout shake if you’re way off your daily total. Also foods like quinoa, broccoli, avocados, potatoes, and nut butters all contain protein and will contribute to total daily protein intake.
There are a couple of things I want to address before I close out this blog. Some things you may have heard of and questions I get asked regularly from my clients. So I thought it would be a good idea to talk about them now.
One thing I get asked a lot is should I eat Protein every day, even when I’m not training? And that answer is always YES!! This goes back to amino acids, the building blocks of protein and the important role they play in restoring muscle tissue. I think you now know the importance of maintain muscle tissue from a fat loss, health and longevity perspective?
Muscle tissue is very hard to keep and muscle breakdown is constantly occurring. The analogy I like to use is to think of your muscles as a brick wall and the amino acids as bricks. Everyday the bricks are being taken off and you want to continually build the wall back up. You do this from regular resistance training, eating enough protein in a wide variety of sources that contain all 9 essential amino acids. This ensures muscle growth is happening and you’ll gain lean mass over time!!
You may have heard that you can only digest/absorb 30g of Protein? I’m going to tell you that this is false. This may have been started from supplement companies so consumers buy and use more Protein powder? You can save your money as more protein will be absorbed, just at a much slower rate. (8-10g per hour if you’re interested)
Studies show that 20g of Protein per meal is the minimal amount to stimulate muscle growth (building the brick wall) and that upwards of 40g is beneficial BUT anything over that doesn't show any difference in muscle growth. This also shows the importance of consuming the same amount of Protein each day as this regular stimulus promotes muscle growth and prevents muscle breakdown.
Another myth you may have heard is that too much Protein can damage your kidneys. Again evidence shows that this is not the case. In fact evidence suggests that there are no adverse effects from eating a high protein diet. There were no harmful effects on blood lipids, liver and kidney function when resistance trained men ate over 2g+ per Ib of Bodyweight of Protein for one year!!
My guess is that you probably need to increase your Protein intake. It’s all about finding what you can adhere to on a consistent basis, as there are the two underlying factors that will determine results.
I hope you have more clarity around Protein, you know the benefits and how it can transform your physique?
I hope you got value from this blog? Please contact me if you have any questions as I love to help and I’ll be back with another blog soon!!