What is Protein?
Protein is made up of a long chain of amino acids & are considered to be the “building block” of a cell. Every cell contains protein but the role of each cell differs depending on the arrangement of the amino acids within it. They are essential for the structure & function of the tissues in the body. Some of these roles include:
- Building structures in the body
- Helping to produce antibodies to fight off illness or infection
- Repairing of cells & creating new ones
- Carrying oxygen throughout the body
- Aiding digestion
Another key role for protein is the production of muscle mass. Simply eating protein won’t help to gain muscle but this combined with weight/fitness training & a balanced diet should do the trick. As we all know fitness training is essential for muscle growth, stimulating & even slightly damaging the muscle allows it to grow back bigger & stronger. How? Well, during exercise you create micro tears within the muscle, your body then breaks down the protein you have consumed to repair these tears. In order to do this, the broken down protein fills the tear creating new muscle fibres & therefore healing the muscle while increasing the muscle mass.
How much do you need in your diet?
Daily protein intake tends to vary depending on an individual’s caloric needs. The average advised calorie intake is 2000 calories per day for women & 2500 for men. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories, indicating that the average woman should consume a minimum of 50g per day & men should aim for at least 62.5g per day. However, what is the average person? Every individual is different which means so is there daily calorie intake. If you’re not too sure what your daily calorie intake is then you can work it out another way. It is recommended in people aged 19-50 that you should consume 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. But when exercising with the aim of growing muscle, the Journal of Sport Science suggests upping this to 1.3-1.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
How does protein help me to keep fit?
As well as being great for muscle growth & repair, protein has many other benefits that help us to keep fit & healthy. These include;
- Speeding up recovery rate after exercising
- Reduces muscle loss
- Helps to maintain a healthy weight
- Prevents binge eating
High protein diets are often advised for people trying to lose weight, as protein combined with fibre helps to keep you fuller for longer.
Good Sources of Protein
When talking about protein most people think of meat, however there are many different types of food that contain lots of protein. Below are some examples of high protein foods:
- Lean Beef
Overall, whether you are trying to keep your body functioning at it’s best, to gain muscle mass, or loose weight protein is an essential part of your diet.