Nutrition 101 – Protein and why you probably are not eating enough

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CLAY TODAY – Protein is one of your macronutrients and is going to be your biggest ally in both gaining muscle and losing unwanted bodyfat. The other macronutrients, carbs and fats are also important to a healthy and balanced nutrition plan but today we are going to focus on protein as this should be your first target.

Protein contains amino acids, most of which get broken down by the liver. Within these amino acids are different types such as Glutamine and BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) which are used for many different tasks within our body. Almost all foods contain some protein, but most of your daily protein will come in the form of animal products and animal by products. Other sources of protein can show up in the form of beans and legumes, or tofu.

So, what does protein have to do with building muscle and losing bodyfat? Remember those amino acids we talked about earlier? One of them is named Leucine, and it helps trigger muscle protein synthesis. These amino acids help to repair the damaged muscle tissue from working out and help maintain the muscle tissue. Protein will also help you lose that stubborn body fat. Protein has more of a thermic effect of food (TEF) than carbs or fats. Anyone who has had the meat sweats can attest to this.

WHAT KIND OF PROTEINS SHOULD I EAT? Well non processed animal-based proteins are going to be your best choice of protein. Things like chicken, steak, fish, and even pork are all high sources of protein. Some things like red meat carry a higher micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) profile than something like chicken breast. While animal by products such as eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt are all good sources of protein. If you are a vegan or vegetarian you will get most of your protein from beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh or protein powders.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN SHOULD I HAVE? Depending on your goals and the amount of food you are willing to consume it should be between .6 – 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Typically, I recommend .8 grams to most people. This usually gets them the amount needed, while keeping them from getting hungry. So, for a 200lb person they would need 160 grams a day.

WHY IS ADEQUATE PROTEIN SO IMPORTANT? Besides the fact that it helps build muscle, you will burn more calories during the day due to the thermic effect we discussed earlier. Protein is also much more satiating than carbs or fats so you should not get as hungry when trying to lose weight. Getting the correct amount of protein will ensure you have a solid base for the rest of your nutrition plan to build from. Getting enough of this macronutrient will also not leave as much room for junk food you were consuming before. Bon Appetit.

William Davis has been in the fitness industry for 10 years and he’s run Steel Mill Fleming Island for seven years. He’s also a USA weightlifting sport performance and USA powerlifting club coach, a CrossFit Level 2 trainer, PN nutrition coach, CrossFit powerlifting trainer, aerobic capacity trainer, movement and mobility trainer and rowing trainer.

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