Protein, And How Much?
Protein is surrounded by a lot of confusion. We all need protein and it is almost always in all foods. The big question is how much do we need? Each person has a different requirement all depending on what their goals are. I have many people in the fitness world asking me how much protein should I eat and what type of protein? I hope to clear up some of the protein confusion based on information I have learnt myself.
Proteins once digested turn into amino acids. The amino acids then have many roles in our health. A good example is the branch chain amino acids which are responsible for providing energy and the repair of muscle growth after exercising. Other amino acids play a direct role in producing a very important antioxidant, glutathione in the body. Without these amino acids, our health would suffer. Those are just two of the roles that the amino acids have in our bodies.
Proteins help us balance our blood sugar. Eating too many carbohydrates cause our blood sugar to fluctuate due to the high glycemic scores in carbs. Food high in protein rank lower on the glycemic scores. Combining protein with carbs can help lower the blood sugar spikes. It is probably better to just lower your carb intake overall but adding protein rich foods to a carb meal is a good strategy to even out the blood sugar. You have probably noticed that when you eat protein rich meals, you tend to feel fuller and for longer periods. That enables us to knock out some of the snacking. While eating proteins, a process called thermogenesis is stimulated, the regulation of body temperature. Thermogenesis is associated with burning fat! If you want lean muscle mass then quality protein with branched chain amino acids is what it takes to build it up. This will improve our weight goals. Who does not want that? Having those adequate amino acids in our bodies is what we need to balance out the breakdown and repair of the body for the muscle mass. Protein is needed for one to feel emotionally balanced day to day. Some amino acids are turned into neurotransmitters for the brain. They regulate our behaviors and feelings. Gaba is a neurotransmitter that helps us to relax and sleep at night. Glutamate is the neurotransmitter that gives us our gas pedal for a keen sense of perception. The amino acid that transfers Gaba and Glutamate into neurotransmitters is glutamine. Protein is also known for bone health along with calcium, magnesium, Vit D and Vit K. Well I thought I might mention the anti aging benefit of protein too. There is a constant battle between our antioxidants and oxidative stress. When we have too much oxidative stress, chronic inflammation creeps in and does major damage to our tissues. A good example is heart disease, usually due to chronic inflammation of the arterial lining. The amino acid that forms a powerful antioxidant glutathione is Cysteine. Again those amino acids are from protein intakes.
How much protein does one need to consume depends on what the individual's lifestyle is. If one is very active and does heavy weight training and exercise, then that person will need more protein verses someone who is active but not to those extremes. Again, the branch chained amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine are mandatory for rebuilding muscle after exercise. You do not want to consume too much protein for various reasons. If you are trying to burn body fat, taking in too much protein can prohibit your body from getting into ketosis by giving your body a glucose source. So rather than burning fat(ketosis) you burn energy through the glucose you provided with excess proteins. Another concern of taking in too much protein is elevated mTOR which stands for Mammalian Target of Rapamycin, This is a physiological pathway that is stimulated through the intake of protein which is associated with growth and regulation of tissues. It is great to stimulate temporary elevations of mTOR but when its a chronic situation of elevated mTOR, cancer and chronic disease are associated with this over dose of proteins. So this leads me to give you some guidelines on how much protein we need. If you are trying to drop weight and are active, then consume a level of 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight. If a person weighed 160 pounds, after breaking that in kg's of body weight, the protein intake would be between 58-73 grams of protein daily. Now if you are an athlete looking to build muscle, then the levels would rise up to 1.0-1.6 grams of protein per kg of body weight. Again if the individual weighs 160 pounds, after converting to kg's of body weight, the protein level would be between 73-117. Extreme athletes of course would take their dose higher and a sedentary person would take their levels lower than the active person listed above. If you are trying to loose weight and are active, taking in too much protein can prevent you from loosing weight while taking too little will not be ideal for lean muscle mass. It can be tricky, but using these guidelines can be of great help.
You have probably heard the statement, not all proteins are created equal. You recall earlier in the article we were talking about amino acids. Well, depending on what type of protein you use, you can have a different balance of amino acids which will have a different effect on the body. So how do we get a hold of those BCAA's, branch chain amino acids that rebuild and repair the muscles? Proteins that are high in BCAA's are in eggs, dairy and muscle meats. Now of course, if you are going to eat that type of protein, go for the healthiest sources pasture raised and organic. For a protein powder with the BCAA's, go for grass-fed denatured whey protein. You can also take a essential amino acid supplement, sipping on it before, during and after workouts. If you want to support your hair, skin, healthy joints and nails, then consider a collagen protein. Making your own bone broth is also a great way to take in collagen protein. I use pea protein which is also an excellent source of protein for building muscle. It is also plant based complete protein and also great hypoallergenic protein for those who have issues with powders. I use Dr. Mercola's Pea Protein in the vanilla flavor as I can mix it with anything, including my non dairy coconut yogurt we make.
We need protein! The obvious is not too much or too little and make sure its good quality and works for you. I hope to punch out another amazing healthy recipe next week. For those of you that do not know yet, my husband and I are uprooting from the beautiful central coast of California to live in the hills of Tennessee. I may have to take a break from my blog for abit. If any of you have written articles and would like to share them on my blog, please contact me. I would love that.
As Always, Love and Peace,