Protein based diets seem to be the talk of the day at the moment when it comes to weight and fat loss, getting slim and lean or building muscles. But how much protein do we actually need on a daily basis?
Are we all the same?
When it comes to daily protein requirements we need to remember that they would be different for ordinary people and bodybuilders or athletes.
We all need to get essential amino acids from the foods we eat in order to give the building block for our body to repair and rebuild itself.
We can get protein from the animal meats or from the plants. The animal proteins contain the full spectrum of essential amino acids that we require. The plant proteins are incomplete proteins and therefore we would need to eat a wider range of foods and about 25% more in quantities in order to obtain the full spectrum of the essential amino acids.
What's the recommendation?
Let's concentrate more on the animal proteins in this post.
The general recommendation for ordinary people is to consume 0.8g of protein daily per 1kg of bodyweight.
Elite athletes might be consuming about 2g of protein daily per 1kg of bodyweight. And bodybuilders - even more.
For somebody who's starting training for weight and fat loss the recommendation would be to consume about 2g of protein daily per 1kg of bodyweight for the first 12 weeks of training and then reduce it to about 1.2-1.6g of protein daily per ikg of bodyweight.
Is more better?
However don't be fooled that the more protein the better! Yes, protein will keep you fuller for longer after the meals and I recommend to all my clients to include good quality, lean protein in every meal and snack.
Eating more protein won't automatically lead to more muscle gain I'm afraid. If you're not training hard and stimulating human growth hormone so that new muscle fibres are being built, the extra protein will be burnt off as energy or worse will be laid down as fat! And that's not what you'd like I'm sure!
Also too much nitrogen from amino acids can put extra strain on your liver and kidneys and sometimes can lead to formation of kidney stones if too much protein is consumed for long periods of time.
Let's talk portion sizes!
It's worth bearing in mind that our body can't process more than 30g of protein in each sitting / per serving. Let's have a look how much protein would you find in some animal based foods:
100g cod = 63g protein
150g prawns = 36g protein
100g lean beef = 36g protein
100g lamb = 36g protein
100g chicken breast = 33g protein
100g pork tenderloin = 32g protein
So it's much better to have small servings of meat at each meal or snack throughout the day.
The best way to eat animal protein?
It is also very important what you eat the protein and especially the animal based protein with.
I love a good quality beef or lamb burger! But I choose to ditch the bun and replace it with plenty of vegetables and especially green leafy vegetables and salads. This way the acidity of the amino acids can be reduced and the enzimes from the vegetables and salads help the digestion and absorption of the nutrients.
One more consideration if you'd like to increase the amount of animal proteins in your diet - I'd recommend buying less but the best quality that you can afford, preferably organic and grass-fed meat and bulking out the meals with lots of lovely vegetables. Using a slow cooker can be an extremely good way of cooking cheaper cuts of organic, grass-fed meats and especially for families. Ask your local butcher to advise you on the flavoursome cheaper cuts of meat.