All about PROTEIN

Updated: Feb 8

There is a lot more to protein than chicken breasts and egg whites. The main focus in this post will be TIMING, AMOUNT and SUPPLEMENTATION of protein.


Don't let it bore you. Let's talk AMOUNT first.


AMOUNT of protein you need

Each individual body can only absorb a certain amount of protein. Consuming more than that amount, is just a waste of money as you will be excreting the excess protein you consume.


Your protein requirement is calculated using your body weight and assessing your physical activity.

Although athletes require more protein than non-athletes, the difference is not as significant as commonly perceived. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, taking in account the type of training and goals.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

AMOUNT PER KG BODY WEIGHT

Sedentary adults

0.8 - 1.0 g/kg bw

Recreational active adults

1.0 - 1.2 g/kg bw

Endurance athletes

1.2 - 1.6 g/kg bw

Strength training (muscle building)

1.2 - 1.8 g/kg bw

Body building (competitive)

1.6 - 2.0 g/kg bw

Consuming 2.0 g per kg BW is safe for healthy adults, but chronic high protein intake (>3g per kg BW) can cause renal and digestive abnormalities.


EXAMPLES OF INTAKE AMOUNT:


A young male, weighing 80kg, participating in resistance training and wanting to build muscle will use 1.6g/kg body weight and has to consume 128g.


A female, 35 years old and an avid long distance, endurance runner will require 1.4g/kg body weight. Weighing 62 kg, she will only utilise 87g protein per day.


The second thing about protein utilization, is timing.


TIMING your protein


Your body breaks down protein at a certain rate. This is not thumb-sucking information, but science.


Absorption in time

Per sitting (meaning per 1.5 - 2 hours) your body can only break down a certain amount of protein and THEREFORE you must time your protein intake and distribute the daily amount throughout your day for maximum absorption .


Consuming three meals per day, each containing between 25 and 30g of protein is considered optimal for the stimulation of 24-hour muscle protein synthesis (MPS) in healthy adults (Lonnie et al. 2018)


In a study by Moore et al (2008), 'the more, the better’ approach is not necessarily optimal. The study investigated the per-meal threshold in relation to body weight and age. In this study, protein utilisation plateaued after the ingestion of 0.24 g of whey and egg protein/kg bw in young men (20g protein per sitting for a 80kg male).


If you need 120 g = 4 x 30g.

3 meals + 1 high protein snack

Calculate your needs by using the graphic below:


Protein SUPPLEMENTATION

Taking protein supplements can be convenient and beneficial. Whole foods will always be recommend for total protein intake, but life happens and we need some alternative.


The most commonly used protein supplement is 100% whey. Whey is a protein found in milk and is considered a complete protein, hosting all 9 essential amino acids (EAA).


Whey protein sold as a supplement is usually developed to provide between 20 and 25g of protein per serving and between 40 and 50g of protein per double serving.


Repeating the statement - your body can ONLY absorb and digest approximately 20 - 30g of protein per sitting. Instead of taking a double serving, have a single serving now, and a second serving (or high protein meal) 2 hours later.


Guidelines when buying protein: Per serving

400 - 900 kJ energy

20-30 grams of protein

less than 5 grams of sugar


Shelf examples:

Data is according to 1 serving (1 scoop)

BRAND

ENERGY (kJ)

PROTEIN (g)

SUGAR (g)

USN Blue Lab

520 kJ

23.6

1.2

Muscle Tech Whey Gold

540 kJ

24

2.0

Biogen Iso Whey

660 kJ

26.2

0.4

NPL Platinum Whey

504 kJ

22

2.8

Watch out for products with too much added sugars.


Loads of products contain a mix of substances such a creatine, BCAAs, stimulants and ergogenics. These supplements will be discussed separately.


Protein energy

Protein, just like carbohydrates, is also a energy-providing macronutrient. The excess protein that you consume may be oxidized for energy and contribute to your daily energy intake. Protein provides the same amount of energy as carbohydrates.

1 gram of protein = 17 kJ

Consuming too much protein can result in weight gain.


Planning your protein


Have a protein source with EVERY meal and snack. The following list of protein sources are some of the things to keep in your food cupboard and always have at hand. For physically active individuals = Right after training, your body is begging for protein. This is the perfect time to consume protein, aiming for (as previously stated) 20g of protein.


1 glass of flavoured milk / 2 boiled eggs / oats for breakfast / protein bar or protein shake are things to have in your gym bags for after your session.


Daily example for 110g of protein. (Vegan example not included - will be discussed in another post)

For increased intake, add more protein to breakfast or/and second snack.


MEAL

EXAMPLE

PROTEIN

Breakfast

50 g uncooked oats, 100 ml milk

13 g

Lunch

100g chicken/tuna, 2 slices of bread, mixed salad, sauce or dressing

29 g

Dinner

100g mince, 1 cup cooked pasta, 30 g cheese

30 g

Snack 1 (optional)

Whey protein shake or smoothie

3 g (approx)

Snack 2 (optional)

40g biltong and a fruit

14 g

TOTAL

110 g

For muscle building, toning and weight loss, protein intake plays a key role in your success.

Plan your protein.


For any questions or to book a consultation contact

nutrition@sportsbodies.co.za

yvanzyl1@gmail.com


References:

  1. Lonnie, Marta et al. “Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults.” Nutrients vol. 10,3 360. 16 Mar. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10030360.

  2. Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, Tang JE, Glover EI, Wilkinson SB, Prior T, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):161-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26401. Epub 2008 Dec 3. PMID: 19056590.






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