I feel like I'm always reading or hearing about the benefits of protein. Every trip to the grocery store reveals a new kind of protein bar. Only the biggest of bodybuilders used to worry about getting enough in their diets, and now nearly every smoothie offered at my gym contains a scoop of protein powder--and it's not the male bodybuilders who are buying the "low-fat cran-razz pink delight". So what's the big idea? Do I eat enough daily or do I need to supplement with something? I decided to put together some information about protein and also determine how much I need daily.
Why Do We Need Protein?
-Perhaps most importantly, your body uses protein to build new muscles and repair existing ones
-The majority of your hair and nails are made up of protein
-Without it, children can develop kwashiorkor, a form of malnutrition found in undeveloped countries
-You need protein to make blood cells
-Aside from water, protein is the most common molecule in the body
So far, so good. I know protein is important for my body, and I want to include it into my diet. So how much do I need? This is where the controversy comes in. Low-fat, high carb, South Beach, Atkin's, Paleo....need I go on?
The United States Recommended Daily Allowance says and adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of weight. So for me, that's around 43 grams. And if you're active? This study says you need closer to 1.37 grams per kilogram of body weight. Alright, then that's 73 grams instead! Different studies and diets may tell you your body requires more or less, but this is a good formula to go by.
Sedentary: KG (weight) x 0.8 grams
Active: KH (weight) x 1.37 grams
Where Do We Get Protein From?
When you talk about protein many people think of a big hunk of meat, myself included. That's far from the only place to get it though. Here is a list of some foods that are a good source of protein:
-Eggs and Dairy products (milk, greek yogurt)
-Poultry, Fish, Beef, Lamb, Pork
-Nuts and Nut Butters
-Soy based foods (Tofu, Tempeh, Miso, Soy Milk)
-Protein Powders, Bars, and Drinks
-Fortified Products: Oatmeals, Bread, Cereals, etc.
From what food sources do you get most of your protein?
I eat a small amount of meat and seafood, but I avoid dairy most of the time. Except for Greek Yogurts--I eat one a day! I also eat eggs often and lots of nuts. However, I still supplement occasionally with protein powders or bars.
Have you ever been on a high-protein diet? Why? What changes did you notice in your body and fitness?
I've been on a "low-carb" diet before, which nearly always ends up as a high protein diet by default. I wouldn't attempt this now, however, because running has become such a big part of my life and I can really tell when I'm eating fewer carbohydrates.