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What's the protein hype all about?
You can buy everything protein these days; protein Weetabix, protein popcorn, protein chocolate bars, it’s all got a bit out of hand. So what’s this all about? Let’s start by looking at what protein actually is and why our bodies need it.
Protein is one of the essential nutrients that our bodies need alongside fats, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water. Protein is responsible for the repair and structure of body tissues and is the major structural component of cells in the body. We break protein down into amino acids, and nine of the 20 amino acids that our body needs, must be provided through what we eat as our body can’t make them itself. Due to this importance, our diet needs to include intake of a recommended 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
So if you weigh 11 stone, that’s around 69kg which means you should have 55.2 grams of protein each day, unless you’re doing an intense exercise where you might need more. There are around 13 grams of protein in an egg, 31 grams in a chicken breast and 27 grams in a tin of tuna. It’s not difficult to make up the amount of protein you need while avoiding products like protein chocolate.
Now, Weetabix protein contains a generous 7.6 grams of protein per 40g serving meaning you get a great start to your day without having to actually cook anything. This is where protein products come in so handy, they are fast and effective ways to give our bodies the protein they need, without having to cook a chicken or boil an egg.
However, there are circumstances where you might want to up your daily dose of protein and these include when you’re on the mend, and when you want to build muscle and lose fat.
PROTEIN AND BUILDING MUSCLE
If you’re looking to bulk up, you may want to increase your protein intake slightly to aid your muscles in their recovery, and provide the amino acids to create more cells, therefore more muscle. It is recommended that instead of increasing the amount of protein you consume over your three main meals, you have several smaller meals throughout the day, to allow your body to absorb the key nutrients.
Another popular option for getting all of the protein you need is by taking a whey protein supplement. Whey is a by-product of making milk, but recent studies have shown it has many health benefits. Whey contains the 9 essential amino acids that we need making it a complete protein. According to Medical News Today, the possible benefits of taking whey protein include weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and can promote the growth of lean tissue mass.
PROTEIN AND RECOVERY
Protein can also aid the recovery of illnesses and broken bones. Caroline Jordan, a fitness instructor, frustratingly fractured her Sesamoid bone and to aid her recovery, looked to her diet. Caroline says, “Following an anti-inflammatory, high quality, nutrient-rich diet is a powerful way to support your body in recovering from a bone break, fracture, or injury.” She goes on to explain the importance of Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C and Protein. “Getting enough protein is always important, but especially when you are healing from an injury,” says Caroline. “Bone is made of living protein upon which mineral crystals are implanted. By volume, about 50% of bone is protein. When a bone fracture takes place, the body starts collecting protein building blocks to create new bone.” This means you need to supply your body with plenty of protein to ensure your body has enough fuel to repair and restore.
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