How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?
Protein is the building block used to create new cells. This includes anything from new skin cells to muscle tissue. Protein is also an energy source and, though, it provides the same amount of energy as carbohydrates, it is not a good energy source. It has a long metabolic process, requiring a lot of energy to break down, and gives you a very slow and weak energy source. This is great for people trying to cut back on carbohydrate intake, or to lose weight, but is not good for high performance and function. To function at your best, you should use carbohydrates for fuel and protein for recovery.
So, how much protein do you actually need?
Amino Acids and Protein
Proteins themselves are made of amino acids linked together. Each amino acid has a distinct shape that enables it to perform a unique function.
There are 20 different amino acids. Most are obtained by food while some can be created in the body.
However, if any of the 20 amino acids are lacking, then a protein, or new building block, cannot be made.
Without complete proteins, a new cell cannot be formed and the energy obtained from the extra amino acids is used as energy, or stored as body fat.
This means that we should be consuming complete proteins and not just amino acid sources in order to gain the best results.
How Much Protein Do You Actually Need?
Naturally every day we lose thousands of cells every day that need to be replaced with new cells. This includes anything from dead skin cells to broken down muscle tissue.
Individuals who exercise or do strenuous work, in which muscle is broken down often, need even more protein than sedentary individuals, to replace the lost cells.
However, there is a limit to how much protein we should be taking because it has been discovered that taking too much protein (over 1.5g/lb or 3.3g/kg of body weight) can put an unnecessary, and potentially harmful, strain on your body’s systems.
Also, your body can only grow so much in one day so taking extra protein, no matter how big and muscular you are, will only put more strain on your body and give you a weak energy source.
Therefore, it is best to consume only what is needed to recover and use carbohydrates and fats as your main fuel sources.
To ensure you get enough protein to maintain or gain strength, aim to consume 0.5-0.7g of protein per pound (1.2-1.6g/kg) of body weight daily.
For individuals who do not exercise or break down muscle often, it is recommended that they consume only 0.4-0.5g per pound (0.8-1g/kg) of body weight daily.
In either case, any excess protein that is not used to build new cells will then be used for energy or fat storage.
Protein is not a bad source of energy, but it is not optimal either. It is much slower to break down and uses the most amount of water during metabolism.
By maintaining a constant level of protein daily, based on your needs, then the better energy sources, carbs and fats, can fluctuate depending on your daily activities.
Carbs are fast digesting while fats are slow digesting. So on days that you have a lot of intense activity consume more carbs while on less intense activity days you should rely more on your fat intake for energy.
Good protein sources are meats, beans, legumes, and dairy products.
Protein supplements can help to accumulate more protein in a diet but should be used sparingly, as whole food will always give you better results, guaranteed!
If you want to learn more, check out: The Truth About Protein Supplements!
Tip: Supplementing with BCAA’s, or branch chain amino acids, can be effective, but only if you are lacking one of the 8 essential, or 2 semi-essential, amino acids. Any excess amino acid that cannot be used to make a complete protein will be used for energy or stored as fat.
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