Protein is a part of every cell in your body. The 21 amino acids that make up protein are necessary for the repair, maintenance and building of muscle tissue. As a fitness enthusiast, athlete, bodybuilder or someone who trains with weights, you should be aware of your need for, and the importance of protein.
Protein and weight loss. Available dietary protein in your digestive tract and eventually your bloodstream will boost your metabolic rate, increasing the number of calories burned and reducing your appetite and the number of calories you eat. Protein is more satiating (filling/satisfying) than both fat and carbs and should be a part of every meal or snack.
Protein sources. Readily available protein sources include meat, milk and eggs, and to a lesser extent beans, nuts and soy. Plant based protein sources are generally considered “incomplete” proteins as they are lacking all of the essential amino acids needed by your body. Protein rich foods are needed to provide the body with these essential aminos. Meat, milk and eggs are examples of foods with “complete” proteins and are the best choices.
How much protein do you need? The most widely cited Dietary Reference Intake suggests the average sedentary adult needs 0.75 to 0.8 grams of protein/kg of body weight. That works out to about 72 grams of protein to simply maintain your current body weight and body fat percentage, the ratio of lean muscle to fat in your body.
If you would like to calculate your personal carbohydrate, protein, fat ratio requirements, use our carb calculator.
If YOU are not the average sedentary person, and if you are a fitness or strength athlete or bodybuilder, you need considerably more protein for building and repairing muscle. The International Journal of Sports Nutrition recommends that individuals participating in strength training should get at least 1.6 grams of protein/kg or 0.75 grams/pound, meaning that a 200 pound man requires 150 grams of protein daily – TWICE the amount needed by a sedentary individual!
Pounds: Weight in pounds X 0.75 = recommended grams of protein
Kilograms: Weight in kilos X 1.6 grams = recommended grams of protein
Protein as a Percentage of Total Calories. If you currently track calories as part of a diet or eating plan like the Macros Diet, calculate your protein intake and consume protein at 25-30% of your calories. This ratio can boost your metabolism by as much as 80 to 100 calories/day, as opposed to lower protein diets.
In one study, protein at 25% of calorie intake was found to increase feelings of fullness, and reduced late-night snacking by 50% and obsessive food thoughts and cravings by 60%.
In a similar study, women ate 441 less calories a day after increasing their protein to 30% of calorie intake. An average of 11 pounds was lost in 12 weeks, merely from the addition of more protein to their diet. That is weight loss of one pound per week from increasing protein intake.
Should your use protein supplements? Your body does not store protein, so the only proteins available to build or repair muscle are those you eat throughout the day. As an athlete, you need a constant supply of protein to repair and rebuild muscle throughout the day and night, but this would require constant meal prep and eating. Protein supplements most often from whey and casein can fill that need for protein with simple to prepare shakes. Use a simple shaker or blender, add water, juice or milk or milk substitute, an ice cube or two, blend, shake and drink.
Whey versus Casein. Protein powders (as supplements) are produced from soy, eggs, or milk byproducts, whey and casein proteins. Soy and egg proteins have unique negative factors, the most readily available and often used protein powders are the milk products whey protein (fast-digesting) protein and the slow-digesting casein protein.
Which protein should you use? The best option is a combination of both! Mix up a whey protein shake shortly before your workout and another one immediately after your workout for ensuring an even supply of available protein. An hour or two before bed, blend a casein protein shake and your muscles will be supplied a slow release of protein throughout the night.
Recommendations – To reach these recommended protein intake totals, whether total grams or a percentage of total calories, eat small, frequent meals containing lean proteins, supplement with protein shakes. To maximize muscle repair and growth, use both Casein along with Whey. Supplement your protein during the day with a Whey protein shake and build muscle at night with the slower-release Casein protein.