Powers of Protein: How much do you actually need?

By Krista Harris | 20 January 2022
4 Minute Read

By Jonny Lea

These days when you think about improving your nutrition and diet the first thing you do is look to increase your protein consumption.

You are right to focus on protein for sure, but why is protein important?

Protein has the greatest thermogenic effect of any macro nutrient, which in short means it elevates the temperature of your body. This means your body starts to burn more calories as heat energy.

This phenomena occurs due to the body using more energy to digest protein as opposed to carbs or fats; roughly 20-30% of the total amounts of calories ingested are required for digestion.

Protein is also obviously extremely important if you are looking to gain or even maintain the muscle mass that you already have.

However it is important to understand that just increasing your protein intake does not automatically mean more muscle or increased strength.

If you are trying to lose body fat, the more muscle mass you can maintain whilst in calorie deficit, the faster you will tend to lose the fat.

To counteract the loss of muscle whilst dieting, high protein and weight training is essential.

Finally, protein has the greatest satiating effect of all macronutrients – in other words – protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer. When you are dieting, this is half the battle, keeping those hunger pangs at bay!

We tend to recommend around 1.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight as a starting point. This is why getting a quality protein source with every meal is important.

For example, for someone who weighs 80kgs, 120g of protein is needed. If you spread this over three meals and maybe a post workout shake, this is very achievable.

We want to put to bed the myth that your body can only ingest 30g of protein per portion.

Getting a good portion of protein in early doors with breakfast is ideal. It will help you hit your target without being caught short.

When it comes to protein choices, complete proteins are best (proteins containing all 8 essential amino acids).

So chicken, turkey, lean cuts of preferably meat, free range eggs and seafood should be top of your choices.

If your food preferences sway more towards the veggie or vegan options, do not fear. You can still get the right amount of high quality protein. You just have to intake a wider variety of plant based proteins to make up a complete amino acid profile.

For example choices such as soy protein, nuts, beans, legumes and grains will be sufficient.

Last but not least, you can always supplement with protein shakes! We would recommend that 20% of your protein target comes from supplementation, the rest from whole foods.

Protein consumption is proven to improve various facets of human health:

  • Growth & maintenance of muscle/tissues/bones⁠⠀⁣
  • Production of enzymes & hormones⁠⠀⁣
  • Cell structure also skin, hair and nails
  • Regulates fluid balance⁠⠀⁣
  • Important for pH balance⁠⠀⁣
  • Immune function⁠⠀⁣
  • Keeping you fuller for longer (thus potentially preventing them from over-eating)
  • Higher TEF (thermic effect of feeding) score than any other macronutrient – meaning that one will use more calories metabolising protein than carbs or fat.⁣

The last two are particularly important when we are dieting and trying to get lean and mean!

To get the most benefit from your protein target an equal spread of protein throughout the day is important for recovery and keeping hunger levels at bay throughout the day.
So for practical application, what’s the best high protein snack to help you hit your target?

Most commonly we find people reaching for:

  • Nuts
  • Protein bars
  • Beef jerky

However, when you are trying to loose weight as well as increase or maintain muscle mass, the above options are highly calorific for a given portion of protein, so they may not help you reach your goal.

As a result, my usual suspects to get the protein in without overdoing the calories at breakfast is:

  • 250g x Fage 0% Fat Greek Yoghurt⁣
  • 75g x Blueberries⁣
  • 75g x Strawberries

    So easy ⁣And tasty.⁣ 190 calories and 26g of protein, it’s a no brainier! The numbers do not lie…

So next time you’re stuck for protein options give this one a go!

Fuel Coffeehouse + Kitchen offers a wide range of low calorie, high protein meals, snacks and shakes. Next time you are in, pop down to Fuel and have a look!

If you would like more nutritional advice or support, please arrange an appointment with our nutritionist, Saskia Knight, saskia@instinct78.co.uk.

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