and why you should prioritise it in your diet
Whether you are working out with a personal trainer or researching your own nutrition and exercise plan online, you will be hearing a lot about protein. There’s an excellent reason why this is the case. Just like you need to consume carbs and healthy fats for energy, you need protein to build your muscles - and repair it after workouts. However, let’s be honest: protein has built up a slightly bad reputation.
Part of this is down to the fact that some bodybuilders and fitness fanatics consume protein supplements in the form of shakes and drinks - and supplements of any kind are often viewed with suspicion by many members of the population. The bad rep also stems from a few myths about protein - if you consume too much you will damage your kidneys, for example. But make no mistake about it, protein is very much a friend if you want to achieve your fitness and muscle gain goals - so how much, exactly, should you be eating?
1. Protein & Women
According to studies, women have far more of a problem with consuming protein than men. It’s down to the fact that women in general prefer sugary treats like ice cream, chocolate, or cakes, whereas if you give men a choice between a bigger, protein packed steak or a dessert, he will almost always plump for the former.
A study on post-menopausal women shows that those on a low-protein diet had higher body-fat than those who were eating higher amounts of protein. As a woman, if you’d like to ensure high enough protein intake to support your activity levels you need to have a fair amount of focus since is it may not come naturally. If you fail to eat enough protein, it can have a significant impact on your ability to build muscle, burn fat, and repair your body after workouts.
2. Importance of Protein
There are many different reasons why protein is important - it contains essential amino acids our body needs to build and recover. When we use the term ‘essential’ about amino acids, it means that the body can’t make it on its own and you need to fuel it yourself.
So, when you work hard through exercise, if you aren’t consuming any protein at all, your body will be incapable of repairing itself - it needs the fuel you provide to rescue your damaged muscles and build them up, so they are stronger than before. Protein is also great for weight loss in another important way. It stabilizes your energy levels and suppresses your appetite as it takes a long time to digest in comparison to other macronutrients such as carbohydrates or fats.
3. Myths About Protein
The myths surrounding protein can be incredibly damaging for anyone that falls for them, as they can stunt your progress significantly. Many women believe that too much protein will result in a bulky, muscular body shape, whereas the reality is it will make you stronger, leaner, and fitter. Check out the diet of female body builders and how long it takes for them to build that amount of muscle. Having a little more protein will not bring such result for you.
The kidney damage myth is another big one - it’s just untrue. There is some evidence that people with pre-existing kidney problems could suffer some problems with a lot of protein. According to Precision Nutrition, you can safely consume up to 4.4 g/kg or 2 g/lb of body weight without experiencing side effects.
4. Your Essential Protein Intake
There is no fixed amount of protein that is the perfect fit for everyone. We’re all different shapes, sizes, and body weights, after all. But according to the US government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a rough guide of around 46 grams per day for women. However, this is normally the minimum amount your body needs to operate on a basic level.
If you are more active than walking around or sitting at a desk all day, you are going to need more. Research has shown you should aim for an extra 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to get the best effects. It’s worth discussing this point with your personal trainer or nutritionist, who will be able to give you an accurate daily protein target.
To summarize, there are a few key points you need to take away. Let’s take a look at those right now:
Protein is a vital part of your weight loss and fitness plan - don’t leave it out if you want to see fast and sustainable progress! Feel free to get in touch today if you have more questions on nutrition for weight loss.
Owner and creator of One Small Step, Joe has been in the health and fitness industry for 8 years and takes an all-round approach to his coaching.