How Much Protein?
What is protein? How much protein do we need? Where do we get protein? A lot of people have so many questions surrounding protein – but what are the facts?
What is protein and where do we get it?
Protein compromises about 15% of the body weight of an inactive person and is found primarily within the muscle. There are lots of different proteins, all made up of amino acids. Our bodies synthesise protein from these amino acids, however, they can only produce some of the necessary amino acids – the rest needs to come from our food.
Protein is readily available in foods such as meat, fish, legumes, tofu, eggs, nuts, seeds, milk and grains. The protein and energy content of foods varies greatly so care must be taken to ensure adequate protein intake.
If an inadequate amount of protein is eaten in our diets, protein synthesis will be impaired; meaning the amount of protein in our muscles will decrease, therefore decreasing strength and endurance. It is important to provide the body with enough overall energy, including protein, so there is a sufficient amount of amino acids available to repair and build new muscle.
Protein intake from animal sources opposed to plant-based has been proven to have a higher absorption rate – HOWEVER – even vegetarian and vegan athletes can achieve an adequate protein intake when a large variety of plant sources are included to ensure the intake of all amino acids!
BCAA’s are found in animal proteins and are made up of 3 Amino Acids, Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine. They are used as energy in the muscle, mainly for athletes engaging in intensive training, and play an important role in protein synthesis. However, it may affect the absorption of other proteins The recommended dose is ~5g pre and post-workout. Does it work? Yes and No! There is mixed evidence surrounding BCAA’s. The leucine in BCAA has been the most proven to work.
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein powder digests very quickly and floods the bloodstream with Amino Acids.
- Improves post-meal glycaemic control
- Promotes protein synthesis
- Increases protein oxidation
- Decreases appetite
Whey protein is very high in BCAA – so, therefore, may have a higher overall benefit than BCAA alone
Casein Protein Powder
Casein protein powder forms a bolus in the stomach, slowing digestion. Unlike whey protein, amino acids in the blood don’t increase rapidly, favouring a slow and steady influx. It is high in BCAA and calcium and is higher in glutamine than whey.
Whey and casein together appear to be superior to whey only for overall training, and BCAA alongside, for improving strength and body composition
So how much protein – and when?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends an upper limit of 1.7g per kg of body weight a day of Protein for those who workout. However, a lot of other sources recommend 2g per kg of body weight for those weight and endurance training. Muscle mass increases over time when resistance exercise is combined with nutrient intake
Between 1.7g/kg – 2g/kg of bodyweight – this will be enough protein to keep building and repairing those muscles every day whether it is on a rest day or a workout day!
Protein Pre Exercise – helps to improve body composition, helps to reduce fat mass, helps to increase muscle. Will aid in recovery and promote hypertrophy.
Protein Post Exercise – muscle protein turnover is greatest post exercise. Profound impact on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Stimulates muscle protein synthesis for up to 3 hours.