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Which Protein is BEST, and How Much Do You NEED?

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Grilled Chicken Breast fillet with fresh tomatoes vegetables salad. concept healthy food

An average healthy person needs only 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So, if you’re 140 lbs. you will need only 50 grams of protein a day. Research shows for a lot of the active people who work out 3 to 5 times a week 60 grams of protein is a good range. Whether you’re looking to build muscle or not, this is a good range to be in. However, if you’re looking to build muscle mass (body build) than 70 – 120 grams of protein is the ideal range. It’s important to note, as muscles grow more efficient they also become able to utilize the proteins, meaning you don’t actually need more protein with the increased amount of resistance/weight training.

How to Calculate Your Protein Need:
1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x 0.8 gm/kg = protein gm.

All proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids. These amino acids and help build muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails, and internal organs. Our body can manufacture all, except for 9 of the amino acids our bodies need. Those 9 amino acids must come from our diet. Animal proteins such as meat, eggs, and dairy products contain all the essential amino acids; they’re known as complete proteins. A complete plant protein is hemp. It contains all 21 amino acids including the 9 that must come from our diet. When eating animal proteins it’s important to ensure they are organic and/or grass fed meats. Otherwise, they are filled with harmful antibiotics and growth hormones that wreak havoc on our bodies. Eating protein can also help you manage your weight because it takes longer for our bodies to digest a protein-rich meal; meaning you’ll feel full for longer. Some protein foods have additional health benefits, for example: nuts/seeds (like pumpkin seeds), fish (such as wild salmon, wild tuna, herring, and trout), which is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining proper health. Legumes are high in protein and they’re high in fiber, they also contain phytochemicals that have tremendous health benefits. Plant proteins are also made up of amino acids, but it’s rare for a plant protein to contain all the essential amino acids, therefore they will be referred to as incomplete proteins.

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So what about protein powders?
Protein powders can help, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that protein powders can take the place of real, solid food. Solid foods will always be superior. However, when it’s convenient or your running short on time a good protein powder does come in handy. Whey protein is great for pre-works but you should not have more than 1 protein shake per day. If you have more, it may lead to consuming more calories and protein than your body needs. There are so many different kinds of powders on the market and there are pros and cons for each of them, lets tune into some of these characteristics for each. Whey protein is recognized for it’s superior amino acids, cysteine content and it’s ability to be easily and quickly digested. There are 3 types of whey protein: Whey protein concentrate is the least processed, therefore contains lactose and a bit more fat; It’s also the least expensive. Whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolysate are processed more, therefore, have less fat and no lactose. In addition, they are far more expensive. However, just because they are more pure and more expensive doesn’t mean you’ll get more muscle and size. Studies show that there is virtually no difference in results (muscle gain) using whey concentrate over whey isolate or whey hydrolysate. However, you may want to use isolate or hydrolysate only if you’re lactose intolerant. When buying whey protein look for a good quality one that uses grass fed cows, all natural sweeteners and no additives or GMOs.

Soy is a good source of protein in terms of amino acids and protein quality. However, it can wreak havoc on your hormones, and for that reason I recommend avoiding soy at all costs. Pea and rice protein powders are good sources of protein, but they are incomplete proteins; on the other hand, by combining both of them together you will construct a complete protein. Always purchase non GMO, or organic pea and rice proteins. Hemp protein powder is a plant protein that actually contains all 21 amino acid and includes the 9 essential amino acids that must come from our diet. Hemp also contains the perfect ration of essential fatty acids, plus it’s an excellent choice and provides your body with high amounts of insoluble fibre as well. When eating protein ensure you are getting it from a good variety of sources: organic dairy products, wild fish, organic chicken, organic turkey, organic grass fed beef, organic nuts/seeds, legumes and vegetables.

Vegetarians who eat eggs or dairy products don’t have much to worry about either. Vegans, who only eat plant-based foods, may have to pay attention to their protein sources to make sure they get enough essential amino acids every day. This can be done by eating ant proteins such as soy, quinoa, or chia, which are also complete proteins; or the other option, by consuming complementary proteins daily. Complementary proteins are plant proteins that when combined, provide all of the essential amino acids. For example, grains and legumes are complementary simply because grains are extremely low in an amino acid called lysine; but they contain plenty of tryptophan, methionine, and cysteine. Legumes, on the other hand, are high in lysine but low in those other amino acids. The grains and legumes complement each other and when you consume both, vegans can get all the amino acids their bodies need. Nuts, seeds, and legumes are also complementary proteins. These proteins don’t’ need to be consumed at the same meal, just some time during the same day. Many experts believe that most of us get more than enough protein daily. In fact, some believe the average sedentary American eats about 50 percent more than the recommended daily amount, which ranges from 40-70 grams each day; depending on your gender, age and situation.

However if you’re an exerciser, your protein needs may increase since resistance training and endurance workouts can rapidly break down muscle protein. The general guidelines for endurance and strength-trained athletes suggest consuming between 1.2 and 1.7 g/kg of protein for the best performance and health. But what if you’re trying to build more muscle? Shouldn’t you eat even more protein? Not necessarily; There’s evidence that bodybuilders, much like exercisers or athletes, do require more protein but that any more than double the recommended daily allowance won’t necessarily help you build more muscle. In essence, the more you exercise, the greater your protein needs will be. However, taking it too far, for example, more than doubling your protein intake, won’t necessarily help you build more muscle.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DEBBIE BERTIE

FEMALE FITNESS SPECIALIST

After my personal struggle with menopause and weight-loss, I knew it was my responsibility to share the journey and to help as many women as possible take back control.

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