New to protein? Fact or Fiction
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Have you noticed? Looking around – ‘Google searchers, magazine articles, Instagram posts, supermarket aisles’ - protein is everywhere these days! Is it just a marketing dream? Or is it something to take notice of? We have enlisted the help and guidance of our nutritionist, Gareth Nicholas, to help explain the world of protein.
What is protein?
In simple terms, protein is an energy source. One of the macronutrients that sustains life. It’s the basis for human structure, responsible for the growth and repair of:
We could not live without protein, just as we could not survive without carbohydrate, fat and water. Dietary protein comes from the foods we eat and is naturally present in both animal and plant sources, such as, beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat. Not to over complicate things, but protein is a combination or collection of amino acids, which creates and supports multiple functions and outcomes for each type of protein. More of which you can read about here.
How much protein do I need?
Before we delve into the specifics of protein, it is worth mentioning that natural protein sources are not usually just protein. Protein dominant foods will also contain fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. Your protein sources should be included to provide balance to your diet and not just a focus on any one nutrient.
That said, if we are to take protein in isolation, the NHS dietary recommendations are to eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein, but it doesn’t really tell you why or how much. As a reference intake (RI) used on food labelling, the recommendation is to eat 50g protein per day.
Of course, we need a baseline but how can that be the correct amount of protein? What if you are 6ft 2in tall and 95kg versus someone who is 4ft 8in and 55kg, surely the taller heavier individual will need more protein to support their stature. This arbitrary 50g is a suggested as a health marker for protein. It should not be considered a target but a benchmark of how much of each protein you should eat. In truth, the advice on protein needs to be more specific and individualised.
Going beyond the reference intake, the UK follows a dietary reference value (DRV) system. Which denotes a series of energy and nutritional requirements for the healthy population of the UK. One set of the DRV’s is the reference nutrient intake (RNI); the amount of nutrients considered enough to ensure the needs of nearly all adults (97.5%) are met. For protein the RNI is 0.75g per kg of body weight. You may have heard the following quoted as a reference: 55.5g for a male and 45g for a female. This is based on average weight by gender in the UK, 74kg and 60kg, respectively.
Confused yet? As a quick summary, here a some key points about daily protein consumption:
- Protein is a vital nutrient that we need to consume daily.
- Protein is a key nutrient for growth and repair.
- Food labelling reference intake (RI) is 50g of protein per day. This is a minimal marker of dietary protein.
- As a daily reference nutrient intake (RNI), protein consumption should be based on body weight – 0.75g of protein per kg of bodyweight.
Taking this a step further, the amount of protein should vary more depending on your sport, goal and activity status, rather than just a baseline healthy average.
Goal based protein
The dietary inclusion of protein should be orientated depending on your sport and goal. For example, protein is a key component to building muscle. As with the RNI, the amount should be in respect to body weight and as a total calculation for exercising individuals. You should consume 0.8-2g of protein per kg of body weight and defined split by goal and sport:
- General exercise 1-1.2g protein per kg of body weight.
- Endurance exercise 1.2-1.4g protein per kg of body weight.
- Strength/Speed exercise 1.4-2g protein per kg of body weight.
Research (ISSN Position Stand, 2017) has shown that higher protein intakes can be specifically helpful for larger individuals with a greater muscle mass or those individuals that want to lose weight and fat mass. The RNI could be elevated to as much as x3 or a total of 2.4g protein per kg of body mass.
From numbers to your plate
Understanding your protein requirement is great, but now comes the important bit. Trying to achieve those numbers within your daily diet, whilst ensuring a healthy balance across the other essential nutrients. As an example, you are 70kg and you have started doing more resistance-based training with a goal of trying to build muscle and improve your physique. You have calculated that your protein intake should be 140g per day. We then want to split that to regular feeds of 2-3 hours throughout the day. You would therefore need to consume 20-25g of protein, 6 times a day.
For many, the tricky bit is getting that amount of protein outside of the three usual meals (breakfast, lunch and evening meal). This is all achievable through typical foods, but for ease and convenience, is the very reason, why protein powders were invented. They have become more of a regular inclusion into the daily diet, rather than just being seen as a supplement.
Simple but effective
As a starting block being new to the world of protein, you are looking for a high-quality product. Something that is up to the task, something to rely on in pursuit of your goal. A misconception of protein powders, especially when first trying them is that they are going to be a just like a milkshake. I’m not saying, that it should not or won't taste great but all of the ingredients that are added into a typical milkshake, predominantly fat and sugar, are unhealthy or counterproductive for your goal.
It can seem like a minefield when trying to pick the right product for you, but let us take the stress and strain of all of that and introduce Maximuscle Max Whey. A high-quality 100% whey protein protein powder, that is low in fat and sugar, providing 22-23g of protein per serving (depending on the flavour) with natural flavourings and a cleaner fresh taste.
You could use Max Whey as your mid-morning or afternoon snacks and immediately after exercise. As a starting point try to improve your dietary protein with real food first and then utilise supplements as and when you need to. For more information about Max Whey, either jump to our product specific page and buy now or if you want to know more, click here.
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