The simple answer to this question is a resounding yes. We all need to take protein on board through our diets. Protein should come from a variety of sources and exactly how much you should have each day is, as many things are up for debate, we will explain this later in this blog. First, we will go through the basics of why you need protein in your diet.
Protein is found in your hair, skin, bones, connective tissue, and muscles to name a few places. It’s involved in many viral processes from creating antibodies to carrying oxygen through your body in your blood, it plays a key role in almost every process within your body.
Proteins made up of long chains of amino acids, these are the building blocks of proteins.
There are about 20 amino acids generally found in plant and animal proteins. For adults, 8 of these are defined as ‘essential’ or ‘indispensable’ amino acids because they are provided in the diet. These are:
Leucine / Isoleucine / Valine / Threonine / Methionine / Phenylalanine / Tryptophan / Lysine.
All amino acids play different roles and it’s important to get a broad spectrum of them. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to get protein in your diet from a variety of sources.
We recommend that you consume 2 grams of protein per 1kg of body weight so, if you are 80kg you should consume 160g of protein. This should come from a wide variety of sources, mainly whole foods and it should be topped up with protein supplements. The reality is that it’s difficult to consume enough protein each day by purely relying on whole foods which make protein powders so useful. You should aim to consume your protein across the day split up into 3-5 servings or however many is convenient and suitable for you.
Protein is great for weight loss for the following reasons:
- To lose weight you MUST be on a calorie deficit. Consuming our recommended amount of protein will help ensure you lose fat rather than muscle.
- Satiety – Protein makes you feel fuller for longer. This is particularly useful when on a calorie deficit as in reality you are not eating the calories you need to maintain your weight, therefore you are bound hungry from time to time. Hight protein will help to limit this.
- Adding protein to meals helps to control insulin levels. By adding protein to carbohydrate-based meals reduces the glycaemic load of the meal, reduces insulin release, and again helps you feel fuller for longer.
- Protein has a thermic effect which means you consume more calories to digest it than other macronutrients.
Protein is also required for weight gain (assuming you want to gain muscle):
- For weight gain you need to be in a calorie surplus, consuming more calories than you need, this allows you to ramp up your protein intake and increase your carbs and fat as you see fit and however suits you the best.
- When you weight train you break down your muscles, they then need to be repaired, this repair work is done by protein.
So, in conclusion, yes we all need protein, here are some takeaway points:
- 2 grams per 1kg of body weight.
- Spread intake across the day.
- Consume from whole foods and top up with supplements.
- Vary food that you get protein from.
- Vary your supplements as you would your food, alternating plant-based and whey.