Hey All, It’s Mark Wolff, The Fitness Freak! I caused quite a stir on social media when trying to see how much of the TRUTH people knew about the ESSENTIAL macronutrient, Protein.
Based on the responses, and through both my learnings and practices, I want to share with you the three main reason why Protein intake needs to be taken seriously.
I also want you to know how much Protein you should be taking…what Proteins are best for both your health and recovery…AND what to look for in a Protein Powder.
Why you need to know your Protein Nitrogen Balance
Today, I’m going to give you three key reasons why protein consumption, specifically monitoring your protein intake is so important. Number one, have you heard of the term MPB?
This is what we call muscle protein breakdown and this is what occurs during exercise, whether you’re a strength athlete or an endurance athlete, muscle protein breakdown occurs and in order for the muscle to be repaired, restored, remodelled, strengthened, a process called MPS or muscle protein synthesis needs to occur.
For muscle protein synthesis to occur, your body has to be in an anabolic or growth state and the only way it can be in an anabolic or growth state is if you’re in a nitrogen positive balance. Nitrogen is a gas which is produced primarily through the consumption of protein.
If you do not consume a sufficient amount of protein in your diet, you will not be in a nitrogen positive balance or an anabolic state, and so MPS will not occur and you’ll actually be breaking yourself down, not building yourself up. The last thing you want to do is be in a catabolic or breaking down state. That is reason number one.
What does a TEFlon pan have to do with Protein intake? Nothing, but TEF does
Reason number two, have you heard of the term TEF?
TEF is the thermal effect of food. Believe it or not, food has a thermogenic effect on the human body and in actual fact; Protein has the highest thermogenic effect on the human body. In actual fact, up to 30% of calories consumed in the form of Protein can be burnt off during the digestive process due to thermogenesis.
Carbohydrates are a little bit lower and you can go up to about 15% with carbs, depending on the kind of carbohydrate you consume, but remember there are some carbohydrates that are high in protein. Quinoa, for example, is a high protein grain. And then on the fat side, that’s on the lower end. If you want to speed up your metabolism, you want to drop body fat, you want to change your body composition, increase lean muscle mass, it’s another reason to focus on protein consumption.
What does Protein have to do with your Immune System? Find out…
Reason number three, lastly, immune system strength. Yes, immune system strength.
Immunoglobulins or antibodies as we know them, are derived from proteins. If you do not consume a sufficient amount of protein in your diet, you are weakening your immune system. Your body will not have the ability to produce antibodies efficiently to be able to fight off bacterial or viral infections and that’s the last thing that you want.
Remember, if you want a strong immune system and you want to look after your health, then protein consumption is again, a vital measure. Those are the three main reasons why you do need to focus on protein consumption. You need to know how much you need to be consuming based on your kind of lifestyle and you also need to know what kind of proteins to consume and how to time that protein intake.
Protein amount per day (it’s a little more complex than that)
Firstly, the volume of Protein that you should consume on a daily basis will ultimately depend on your lifestyle, your goals etc. A sedentary person, for example, that doesn’t do any exercise will consume a very low portion of protein per day and that’s usually around, maybe roughly 1 g of Protein per kg of body weight. Where we look at active individuals, it’s anywhere from 1.2g up to about 1.7g per kg of body weight for endurance athletes. As we age our protein demands actually increase as well.
And when it comes to strength athletes, it goes way higher, over 2g of Protein per kg of body weight. Ultimately, depending on your goals, whether you’re trying to increase lean muscle mass, drop body fat, maintain etc. we can determine the amount of protein you should be consuming daily.
20-30g of Protein every couple of hours
The second thing that I need to mention is you cannot get all your Protein requirements in one single serving. Protein, unfortunately, can only be processed in bouts of approximately 20-30 g of Protein every couple of hours. The human body cannot process much more and so if you try and consume all your protein in one sitting, only a portion of that will be utilised and the balance will have to be converted ultimately into blood glucose. And if not utilised, ultimately then converted into fat and stored as fat.
That is why big meat eaters actually land up gaining weight, especially when they’re combining it with portions of carbohydrates etc. which cause a rise in blood sugar. So, it is very important to understand what your Protein targets are, and you need to stick to those Protein targets. But the second thing is, you need to periodise your Protein intake and that means consuming portions of protein throughout the day, from the time you get up until the time you go to sleep.
And this is why I’m not a big fan of intermittent fasting. Sure, for weight loss it’s one thing, but if you want to be a performance athlete and you want those gains, specifically strength, speed, fitness, and you need to help the body recover, then you cannot be fasting, you need to give it the protein that it requires.
Not all Proteins are created equalling (this is why you should care!)
In this final segment around our protein discussion I’m going to talk a little bit about the two primary sources of Protein, the one being animal-based Protein sources and the other being plant-based Protein sources. We know that animal-based Protein sources has been a firm favourite.
Why? Because it’s got a rich and complete amino acid profile, whereas plant-based proteins have always been thought to be inferior. But that is not actually true. There’s been a big shift towards plant-based eating. Why? Not just from an ethical point of view, but from a health point of view. It has been shown that plant-based eaters have a much lower risk of diseases such as types of cancers, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, hypertension etc. and obesity. And this is why there’s been a big shift.
The thing is, if animal-based Proteins have a complete and rich amino acid profile, why would I look at consuming a plant-based Protein and it’s quite simple. You can achieve a complete and rich amino acid profile from plant proteins as well. Simply put, all you’ve got to do is combine different sources of plant proteins together to achieve that. I’m going to give you a simple example.
If I look at pea protein for example, or a pea protein isolate, sure, pea protein is high in lysine, but it is low in cysteine and methionine. If I look at rice protein, or a rice protein isolate for example, it is very low in lysine, but it is very high in cysteine and methionine. By combining those two plant-based sources together, I get a full, rich amino acid profile and it is absolutely perfect for consumption.
Plant Proteins are Alkaline Diet Foods
Not only that, plant-based proteins are more alkalizing whereas animal-based proteins are slightly or highly acidic. And that is one of the reasons why plant-based proteins are also a big, firm favourite. So, whatever you decide to do, just remember, protein consumption, whether it’s plant-based or whether it’s animal-based, you need to mix it up and choose what’s best for your health. It’s not just from a sports performance point of view, and that’s where the focus needs to come on the nutrition side of things.
The Best Healthy Protein Powder
When looking at a Protein Powder – opt for something with a Rich Amino Acid Profile. Make sure it is a clean quality product with no cheap fillers.
Ideally look at something that has Zero Sugar, and with no hidden Carbs! Take full control of your Protein portion – and add it quilt free to your smoothies, pancakes, protein cups, oats, etc.
Make a protein supplement choice for your Health first not just for performance.
Looking for a great option? click here
Thank you Mark. We moved over to plant based a year ago due to health reasons. I can with honesty say that it changed our health and certainly my cycling performance. My wife lost more than 15kg and are looking very good. Me myself lost 5kg and my weight stabalized now on 70kg. We learned a lot about different plant proteins which we normally overlooked. We don’t say that people must go full plant based, all they have to do is cut back on the bad and take more of the good’. There are plenty plant based proteins available at all supermarkets. Old habits die hard.
Thanks for this article. Any recommendations on a good protein powder brand that my whole family can use?