Welcome to another cheat sheet installment where you will learn about the humble protein macronutrient. Grab a pen, some paper and make sure the teacher ain’t watching, here’s the scoop!
What Role Do They Play In The Body?
Proteins are made up chains of amino acids. They can be described as the building blocks of the body. Their function varies greatly and include:
- Forming antibodies which defend the body from foreign invaders like bacteria.
- Make up structures like collagen in tendons, and keratin in hair.
- Transport various molecules around the body.
Are There Different Types?
There are in fact 2 basic types of amino acids:
- Essential amino acids – This amino cannot be produced by the body and therefore must be obtained from specific foods in our diet. Leucine, for example, helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and is found in beef and peanuts, as well as other foods in varying quantities.
- Non-essential amino acids – You guessed it, the body manufactures this type on its own. They can be also found in different food sources, though there consumption is not a necessity. Alanine, contained within oats, helps to produce lymphocytes, which form a key part of your immune system
When Should I Eat Protein?
A portion of protein should be consumed with every meal. This not only ensures a feeling of fullness, but also aids in maintaining consistent blood sugar levels, compared to the ‘spike’ which occurs when eating a carbohydrate source on it’s own.
With this in mind, ensure you make a concerted effort to consume protein around a weight training session. Although the stimulus of resistance training promotes protein synthesis (building up of amino acids to form a specific protein), it also throws the body into protein breakdown state, whereby breakdown overpowers synthesis. This is of course the polar opposite to what one wants to achieve from this form training, where the goal is growth.
By consuming protein around a workout, it shifts the balance in favour of protein synthesis.
Won’t I Turn Into Arnold Schwarzenegger If I Eat Protein!?
Although protein coupled with weight training, among other factors leads to muscle growth, you will not turn into a hulking figure by eating a reasonable amount of protein. The likes of Arnie in his heyday, took steroids as well as other supplements, giving him an incredible capacity to recover from the trauma of resistance training, thus allowing him to grow bigger than is possible naturally. He also worked incredibly hard in the gym.
How Much Should I Eat?
For the individual who is relatively sedentary and doesn’t carry out resistance-type training or high intensity physical activity, you should shoot for roughly 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight per day. For example, a 60kg person should consume 60g. This is enough to keep a protein balance between synthesis and breakdown.
For the active individual carrying out regular high intensity training, the bar is set higher as a much greater demand is placed upon the body. Aim for around 1.5-2g per kilogram, so 90-120 grams a day for a 60kg person. These parameters are suited to promoting protein synthesis rather than maintenance.
Show Me The Chicken!
That brings us to the end of another cheat sheet, hide your notes from teach! As always, any comments, questions or queries, leave them in the section below.
“I’m on my own version of the protein diet, but there ain’t no protein in it. It’s a Krispy Kreme doughnut between two Cinnabons. And you soak it overnight in Red Bull. Then you chase it with a Snickers”
By Andrew Cammarano