One of the most common questions when it comes to nutrition is ‘How much protein should I eat?’
Here, we’ll discuss the basics of protein, what it does and how much you should be eating.
Protein is one of three Macronutrients and arguably the single most important when it comes to muscle growth and preservation. Protein is most commonly found in animal products, but can also be found in nuts and seeds. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories and commonly makes up 15% of a persons total bodyweight.
What does Protein do?
‘Chemically, protein is composed of amino acids, which are organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are the building blocks of muscle mass, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).’
In essence, when protein is consumed and broken down, it helps to fuel muscle mass which in-turn helps with metabolism. Protein is especially important when trying to gain muscle or lose body fat, as sufficient amounts of protein help aid muscle recovery and prevent breakdown of muscle tissue.
As you workout, you actually damage muscle tissue. After you workout, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy (growth). Muscle growth occurs whenever the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown. This adaption, however, does not happen while you actually lift the weights. Instead, it occurs while you rest. (source:www.builtlean.com)
How much protein should I eat?
As a general rule of thumb, anyone looking to maintain or grow lean muscle tissue should aim for at least 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight. However when trying to lose fat or ‘cut’, anywhere between 1.2-1.5g of protein per lb of bodyweight is recommended. When trying to lose fat, your body will be in a caloric deficit so it is vital to ensure that protein levels are higher to prevent muscle breakdown and keep your metabolism firing . For example, I weigh 186lbs and currently eat 4 men’s muscle gain meals and a breakfast (totaling 250g protein). This allows me to stay at my current weight whilst getting relatively leaner (when I stay consistent).
But i’m a girl, will protein not make me big?
Absolutely not. Simply put, women don’t naturally produce anywhere near enough testosterone to build substantial amounts of muscle. Protein will help you stay lean and preserve what you have, not turn you into a monster. Protein is your friend!
Remember, when consistency goes out the window, so do your results! So stick to your plan and block dominoes pizza’s tempting text messages!