What is Protein?
Protein is a vital nutrient that your body needs every day. Protein helps you maintain and rebuild your muscles after exercise. Foods high in protein include whey, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy produce (such as milk, cheese and yoghurt), beef and soya.
Proteins do most of the work your cells require for their structure and function. Protein is constantly turned over in the body and ideally losses should equal intake. Activity increases your need for protein, as it accelerates these losses.
How much protein do I need?
The UK Food Standards Agency recommends that adults take in around 55 grams of protein per day or 0.8g per kg of body weight. Guidelines for active individuals, however, such as that supplied by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or English Institute of Sport (EIS) recommend between 1 and 2 grams per kg a person weighs.
When should I drink a protein shake?
Protein shakes are ideal for immediately after training where it can help with muscle development, but can also be handy at any time of the day where you might be struggling to find a good quality convenient source of protein.
What happens if I don't eat enough protein?
An occasional low-protein day will not affect muscle maintenance or growth, but if you don't get enough protein on a regular basis, then you will find it harder to maintain or build muscle mass.
What are the best sources of protein and is whey protein really the best?
As far as your body is concerned, there are two different types of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Non-essential amino acids are amino acids that your body can create by itself. Essential amino acids cannot be created, and therefore the only way to get them is through food. Only a few foods provide the complete set of essential amino acids, and whey is one of them. The advantage with whey is that it has a great biological value – in other words, the body absorbs it faster. Figure 1 shows you a list of protein sources and their BV. A typical serving of whey contains the same amount of protein found in a chicken breast, but can also be low in both fat and carbohydrate.
What should I look for in a protein shake?
Check it has at least 20g of quality whey protein – without adding milk - to support muscle maintenance, growth and development. Check it for the ‘informed sport’ logo to give reassurance that your product has been screened against the banned list of substances and that it comes from a reputable company with stringent quality control.
How can I use protein for muscle building?
A combination of resistance training, to stimulate protein synthesis, along with adequate protein intake, to essentially feed the muscle, is required. Include adequate calories to complete the formula for muscle growth. Aim for 1.5 – 2 grams of protein per kg you weigh. This should be split into 5-7 feeds throughout the day.
How can protein help my muscles?
The period after exercise when your muscles begin to rebuild is the best time to consume protein to induce a positive protein balance. A whey protein shake helps here because it’s convenient to make up and drink.
Protein for weight management
When activity increases, so do your protein needs. Protein also becomes more important for maintaining your lean muscle when you’re controlling your calorie intake. Muscle is our fat-burning engine, burning more calories than fat. If you want to lose weight, maintaining muscle is helpful.
Figure 1: Types of protein and their biological value
|Proteins||Biological Value - in %|