Protein… What You Need To Know

Welcome to part 2 of my nutritional education 3 part series on carbohydrates, proteins and fats, giving you the key information that you need to know.

Click here to check out part 1 on carbohydrates in case you missed it.

Okay back to it:

Name two things you associate getting big muscles with?

Think about it….

How many of you thought lifting weights and eating a hell of a lot of protein?

Quite a lot I would imagine and you aren’t wrong. These probably are two of the main steps that you need to do in order to bulk up and increase your muscle size.

BUT

Just eating huge amounts of protein isn’t going to do it on its own, there’s a bit more tactics involved than that. Just eating tonnes of protein will most likely add to your waistline if done incorrectly.

When I say protein I’m not just talking about protein shakes I’m talking about the protein you get from meat, eggs and veg as well as from shakes. I think protein shakes can be really good, I take them myself but they are over marketed and people think it’s a quick fix to bulking up.

I know people who have purchased a tub of protein before a gym membership… ridiculous!

Just so you know I will be writing an article in the future all about protein powder, for now if you have any questions just comment below.

So what is protein?

Protein is a macronutrient just like carbohydrates and just like fats. It is composed of amino acids and protein provides 4 calories of energy (calories) for each gram.

Protein’s main role is that it is an essential nutrient involved in the growth and repair of all of the body’s tissues. It can be used for energy, but carbohydrates are the main source of energy in an average diet.

At a cellular level our body uses proteins for just about everything so its role is vital to a healthy body.

The current guidelines for protein consumption each day are 46 grams for females and 56 for men.

What foods do we get protein from?

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products (cheese, yogurt)
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts & seeds

Guidelines suggest that protein makes up 10-15% of your diet but I say it should be higher than this. Most people I would say exceed this as a lot of people will have meat with nearly every meal.

Tuna is one of the best sources of protein out there but when it comes to meat and fish they are all pretty good sources.

High carb or high protein diets or any high/low diets for that matter aren’t really healthy. You need to have the right amount of all of the macronutrients for your body to be healthy and work efficiently.

High protein diets are very popular especially with people looking to build muscle they just think the key is to consume as much protein as possible and will eat loads of meat and drink loads of shakes. If you eat a lot of protein from meat it is likely that you will be eating a lot of fat too, so a high protein diet can also mean a high fat diet as well, like I said we need to have a good balance of fats, proteins and carbs.

A few steps to keep the unhealthy fats from your protein is by trimming off all visible fat from meat and poultry and taking steps such as removing the skin. You should also grill your food instead of frying it as a healthy cooking method.

As a guide, more active people, especially people who do heavy physical work/exercise should consume high amounts of protein as they need it to repair the muscles which are broken down during exercise.

Our body tends to use what it needs and any extra is normally stored as fat, so like I said earlier drinking 2-3 protein shakes a day will more likely lead to fat gain as opposed to muscle gain. Young men looking to build muscle are the biggest culprits of this and are ‘protein mad’.

As a guide I would just concentrate on getting as good solid consistent exercise program going first before thinking about it, then make sure you have a well balanced diet and eat a good meal after exercise, and then if you find that you are struggling to get enough protein into the body then maybe have a protein shake post exercise and leave it at that.

A protein deficiency can cause more problems than overdosing on protein.

Without enough protein your body will not be able to recover from training as well, this will reduce performance and increase the likelihood of injury. Other problems include low energy production, muscle atrophy and digestive problems.

Protein doesn’t just have to come from meat, look at vegetarians they are normally pretty healthy. They get their protein from vegetables, nuts and legumes and are still healthy.

Just check out this guy in the photo!

He’s done that without meat.

So don’t go protein mad with shakes, bars, cookies, pancakes and even ice cream which are all sold by protein companies but see it as an essential part of our diet alongside carbohydrates and fats.

Just try and get as much of your protein as possible from your food sources (in a healthy way) and then fill in the gaps with shakes and bars if needed.

Remember though with cheap meat and processed food no matter the protein content it is still heavily processed so go for more quality meat sources (although more expensive) as much as you can.

I hope this article has helped and remember to comment below if you need any extra advice/have any questions.

Take care,

Jamie Stedman

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