Well it’s relatively accepted now with all the studies that have been carried out the current #No1 ‘Go to Diet for Fat loss’ IS a ‘high protein low carb approach’.
However there still seems to be some confusion out there on how much is enough? AND what does it actually do? I am going to try and simplify the whole thing without it getting to much of a science lesson.
So protein is basically another name for amino acids, which is generally split into two groups: essential and non-essential. The essential ones you have to digest, in other words you have to eat them. Non- essential the body can manufacture from other sources.
Each cell of the body is built and repaired with protein, these are the building blocks of the body... Without them we’d be a big pile of mush on the floor!
They ARE THE body’s own construction crew that builds:
Remember, they also enable us to repair and recover from daily life. They are even more important for anyone that exercises or puts their body through any other sort of stress. Here’s why!
When exercising we use the body’s muscle groups, and when doing that we break muscle fibres and this is completely normal. You’ll notice it more if you haven’t exercised in a while and for a day or so afterwards you’ll be aching. Do you remember saying this?
‘I’m hurting in places I didn’t even know I had’!
Well, when you do that protein gets to work repairing all of the muscle fibres and puts them all back together again.
So exercise is a bit like the body experiencing an earthquake, then once the ‘Construction Crew’ (protein) land, take a look and say “Hey, just in case we get another quake we better build it better this time”.
Which is why the next time you do the same exercise the muscle pain is nowhere near as severe. The process is then repeated until you change the exercise protocol: like doing more reps, more weight, more speed etc.
In a nut shell, IF your protein intake is NOT adequate you will NOT recover from the exercise as quick as you should. The quicker you recover, the quicker your body shape will change..........it’s just rinse and repeat.
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So, how does Protein Work for Fat Loss?
It’s actually a much deeper topic than what I will explain here, but I’ll try and give you a simple overview.
The reason it works so well is:
- When you start a low carb/high protein diet, instead of over consuming high sugar carbs you change the body’s preferred fuel source from mainly sugar to protein and fat stores. So you basically make the body burn fat for fuel.
- The thermogenic effect of digestion. About 10% of the body’s daily calorie intake is used to digest food and turn it into fuel (energy). For protein the amount of energy the body has to use to turn it in to fuel is between 20% - 30% of what’s put in. So for example: Take in 100 cals of protein it takes 20-30 cals to convert it.
- It will keep you fuller for longer.
- As we talked about earlier, it helps you recover quicker and be able to efficiently move forward with your exercise plan, therefore being able to exercise at a higher intensity.
Sources of Protein:
For the most part, protein comes from meats, fish, nuts, dairy, soy, beans and legumes.
How much do we really need?
The standard advice is around 50gms of protein. For the average adult that’s about two chicken breasts or ½ kilo of cottage cheese a day.
I must admit in my opinion that’s low but it is for someone who isn’t exercising or following any sort of low carb plan.
But let’s say you’re exercising and you weigh around 140LB’s (10 stone) or 64kg I would be aiming for 0.75gm per body pound which equals 105gms as a minimum of protein a day.
Thats double the amount than someone not exercising or following the nutritional program.
In fact the Society of Sports Nutrition supports up to 0.9gms/LB of body weight so that equates to 126g .I have done higher myself and have had clients go higher when we ve been doing something specific.
The flip side of this is it takes some doing (well, eating) and in my opinion I would always advise eating real foods first and secondly I would use a specially designed supplements for back up.
Purely for these reasons:
1. The convenience of not having to prepare it in advance
2. Or, if you get stuck somewhere and there are limited choices for food
3. The Cost
4. It Takes the Guess work out of it. You know how much you're getting and when and when you re getting it.
READ PART 2: What's all the fuss about Protein and do we really need it?