Tell me about Protein

Grilled steak and vegetables by SS Diets

“How much protein should I eat?” is commonly over-looked part of ensuring you have a healthy and balanced dietary intake. People often dismiss their protein serve as part of implementing a balanced diet. Protein is a macronutrient that provides energy for our bodies. Every single cell in your body contains protein, including your muscles, organs, bones, skin, hair, hormones and enzymes. It forms the ‘building blocks’ for your body to repair itself, and our bodies undergo a constant repair process every single day.

There is probably no other nutrient that gets as much attention in sport and exercise as protein due to it’s role in muscle growth and repair (a goal many strive for). Protein is found in animal based foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy (milk, youghurt, ice cream) as well as vegetable based foods: soy milk and tofu, legumes, lentils and nuts. There is an enormous amount of protein supplements (powders, bars, drinks) available on the market these days.

Am I getting enough protein?

Certainly people participating in heavy training sessions, endurance athletes and strength training athletes have higher protein requirements than those in our community who do not exercise regularly. A typical Australian adult requires 0.8 – 1.0g/kg/day with an increase to 1.5g/kg/day for athletes.  Most Australian adults easily meet their protein requirement through a balanced and varied diet. Even if you are lifting very heavy weights regularly, you are likely to meet your protein needs with food.  If you are lifting heavy weights and are electing to be vegetarian or vegan, a protein supplement maybe helpful.

My trainer recommends a protein powder after a work out

Research suggests each time protein is consumed there is a small spike in muscle growth and regeneration. So, eating protein regularly throughout the day is ideal for muscle growth. This impact is generally capped at 20 – 25g protein, and fueling above this level has not been shown to add any further benefit. Certainly eating protein within 60 minutes of your training can prolong muscle growth and delay muscle breakdown. However, your next meal (say Breakfast in the morning, or Dinner after an afternoon session) can meet this need. If that is not possible (because of timing, or work commitments) a protein shake or bar might be convenient (although so could a glass of milk and a handful of nuts).

Can I have too much protein?

What a lot of people who are not University trained do not understand is that too much protein is stored in our body as fat.  We are often asked “why does the amount of protein matter so much?”, leading us to realize a lot of people seem to think excessive protein has no impact. This is simply not true, within about 2 or 3 hours of consumption any unused protein is stored in our body . Yep, so if weight loss is your goal to much protein might be your limiting factor. The easy way to think about how much protein you need each day is based on your weight. We generally recommend your lunch meat serve is 1g/kg of body weight and 2g/kg body weight for dinner. So if you weigh 50kg that is 50g of meat (different to protein) at lunch and 100g at dinner, this is a very loose guideline and specific details for your goals and your lifestyle choices will need a dietitian appointment to discuss what is best for you.

Summary Page

In answer to the question “How much protein should I eat”, the answer depends on your weight and nutrition goals. For weight and muscle gain aim for 1.5g/kg/day, matching in with your resistance training. For weight management, or weight loss aim for 00.8 – 1.0g/kg/day. Contact us if you would like to specifically answer the question “how much protein should I eat?” To read more try this link to Dietitian’s Association of Australia