Protein Intake: How Much Do I Need and Where do I get it?

Nov 12, 2009 | Eating Right

Protein intake is a passionate topic. Read any body building website and you will be bamboozled by the latest and greatest protein supplements. Then there are the other punters who cry that we are eating too much protein and our health will suffer. So how do you sort through the contradicting press and how much protein do we really need to look great, and feel healthy?

Recently I came across a comprehensive article written by The Fitness Spotlight on Protein intake per day. If you are looking for some more detailed insights, read their article. It details techniques such as protein pulsing and intermittent fasting as well as analyzing some recent data.

Why is Protein Important?

It is literally the building blocks for your entire body, from your hair to your toenails, muscles, tendons, ligaments organs, the list goes on. If you aren’t getting enough protein, your body will not rebuild itself effectively, leading to muscle atrophy, depleted immune system, and potentially Sarcopenia. Many people train extremely hard to build muscle or get faster, however if their protein intake is inadequate they will not see the results their hard training warrants.

According to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS);

“Protein is an essential nutrient in the diet, being used to manufacture body proteins that have important structural and functional roles. Structural proteins are needed to build connective tissue, cell membranes and muscle cells. Regulatory proteins act as enzymes or transport vehicles. Proteins are made up of various sequences of about 20 different amino acids. Eight of these amino acids are essential and must come from the diet. Some amino acids are used as a minor fuel source during exercise.”

How much protein do we need?

The following table gives you the current guidelines for daily protein intake. Research for this table is taken from the AIS and CSIRO.  They are the current guidelines to help you determine your optimal daily intake of protein. It is calculated in total grams per kilo of body weight per day. Simply multiply the below figures by your body weight or click on this calculator for an easy estimation:  Note if you use imperial measurements the calculator will accommodate you.

 

Source: Burke and Deakin, Clinical Sports Nutrition, 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd, 2006 via Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)

Best sources of protein:

The ideal sources of protein comes from organic, whole foods. These are some moderate to low fat foods containing the best sources of protein. Each item/quantity contains 10g protein. Try to have something on this list in every meal:

Sample Nutrition Plan – High Protein

So how does all this look in the kitchen? Is it really that hard to ramp up your protein intake? Below is a sample diet for a 75kg person on a 1500cal/day diet. It represents 1.7g protein/kg/day. This would be ideal for someone exercising hard, trying to lose fat whilst build muscle.

As you can see it is not hard to increase your protein intake whilst keeping your calories down. But be warned many high protein products come with a higher fat content so don’t fall into the calorie trap in your quest to harden up!

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