How Much Protein Do We Really Need?

How Much Protein Do We Really Need?

Protein and exercise go hand in hand and it’s no surprise that protein can help enhance your workouts. You’ve heard it time and time again to eat more protein if you want to see the gains. So, here are our top 3 ways protein can boost your workout.

Protein is needed throughout life to create, maintain and renew cells. In fact, haemoglobin, enzymes, antibodies are either created from protein or are in fact proteins themselves.

 

Protein is found in a variety of food including:

Animal sources:

  • Meats such as chicken, beef, pork, turkey and liver
  • Seafood such as tuna, prawns and fish
  • Dairy products including milk, milk powder, yoghurt, cottage cheese and cheddar cheese 

Plant sources:

  • Nuts
  • Soy beans 
  • Sesame seeds
  • Yeast spread
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Lentils

Proteins are made from chains of amino acids. Interestingly enough there are only 20 amino acids that make up proteins, but the number of combinations in which these can be arranged is never ending. Eight of these 20 amino acids are essential meaning that they cannot be made by the body and must be provided by a food source. These amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. For more on amino acids you can check out our earlier post here

 

How much do we need?

Did you know that we need as little as 40-50grams of protein per day, or 1 average size piece of steak and a wedge of cheese or 100g of cooked lentils. This protein is essential for turnover or repair of muscles, skin enzymes and hormones. Any more protein that is consumed then required is converted to kilojoules and unless burned up, is eventually converted to fat.

On average most of us over-consume our protein needs of 75g per day for women and 100g per day for men.

However, athletes, children and pregnant and breastfeeding women actually need more protein.

This is because these groups are synthesising new tissue to help recover, repair and grow. It is because of this that this group need around 50% more protein in relation to their body weight.

 

How does protein help athletes?

Just like how pre-workout gets you in the zone to workout at your best, protein plays a starring role in your recovery post workout. Post workout is when your body gets to work repairing damage to muscle fibres, formulating new growth and restoring energy levels. Ideally you should consume protein around 30 minutes to 3 hours post exercise for maximum benefit.