Protein plays a large role in today’s weight loss diets, however, overloading your body with protein may cause more harm than good. How much protein do we really need and where do we get it from?
What is protein? Protein is a macronutrient comprised of amino acid that is necessary for the growth, development, immunity and function of the human body. When the body does not intake enough protein it leads to muscle atrophy and the body does not function properly when it is deficient of protein.
High protein diets have been the choice for weight loss because research has shown that it helps control caloric intake and control appetite due to the reduction of blood fats and maintenance of lean muscle tissue when the dieter is involved in an exercise program. Lowering your intake of carbohydrates results in less insulin spikes and in turn less sugar cravings. Diets with 50% protein intake are considered High Protein Diet.
As an avid fitness and health buff I have been always been on a high protein diet. However I have watched people “protein up” full force and started researching about the pros and cons and the magic question; how much protein does the body really need?
Although an important part of our diet, the truth is that the intake of extra protein will not help you build more muscle. The consumption of extra protein that your body does not need will in actuality increase your caloric intake of which can cause weight gain instead of weight loss and may actually even make your liver work harder. Another important thing to note is that we should not fear carbohydrates because of the protein hype, good complex carbohydrates are an important source of where energy comes from, therefore eating the right carbohydrates especially before a workout or training is an important source to get you through your work out.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day; .8grams x 60 kilos (132lbs) = 48 grams of protein a day. Conversion; 1lb = 2.2 Kilos. If you are an athlete then it is recommended to increase your protein intake 50% according to sports dietitian on Medscape today, Josephine Conolly-Schoonen, MS, RD. The protein needs of the athletic population will be determined by the length, frequency, and intensity of their training/workouts.
There are many sources of protein and if you are a vegetarian, you can get everything we need from nature as long as you combine protein rich foods to get complete amino acid protein. Usually the CDC recommends 2-3 servings of protein daily.
Animal Protein Sources: Offer Complete Amino Acids
Meat: 8 ounces = approx. 50 grams
Milk: I cup= 11 grams
Cheese: one slice= 9 grams
Yogurt: 8 ounces= 11grams
Eggs: One Egg White = 4grams
Need to be combined for complete amino Acid protein sources
Beans: one cup= 16 grams
Tofu: 10 g= 7grams
Nuts: One ounce= 9 grams
Grains: Unrefined Grains offer the most protein
Oats, Rice, Quinoa, Amaranth, Spelt: Approximately 6grams of protein per 1/3 cup.
Protein Shakes, are a great meal replacement or snack, my favorite protein source for shakes is HEMP.
Conclusion about protein, get it from the best sources and as the ancient Greeks use to say “ nothing in excess”. Stick with the right amount of protein that your body needs.