Protein 101: The Complete Guide to Protein
If you’re into health, fitness, and nutrition, you’ve probably heard of macronutrients before. There are three main macronutrients that are essential to the functionality and survival of the human body:
While all macronutrients are important in their own respect, In this article we’ll be focusing solely on the building blocks of life - Protein!
What is Protein?
As mentioned, protein is a macronutrient that is essential to the functionality and survival of the human body. Protein as a chemical is comprised of compounds called amino acids. During digestion, protein is broken down into smaller “chains” that are crucial to the absorption of these amino acids.
When absorbed properly and in the right amounts, protein keeps your immune system healthy and functioning, ultimately resulting in the building of lean muscle tissue.
Protein is crucial to human life, providing several health and wellness benefits. One of these benefits that was shown in a study out of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is that protein is correlated to the satiety of our food cravings. In other words, it acts as an appetite suppressant.
This is great news for those trying to lose weight and avoid over-eating!
While you may have simply associated protein with big muscles and alpha-males in the past, however, that’s largely a naive understanding. Instead, protein boasts a plethora of benefits, from the aforementioned building of muscle, to assisting in weight-loss, fending off infection, and more.
Below is a List of Notable Benefits of Dietary Protein Intake:
- Helps build and repair muscle tissue
- Assists in weight-loss and fat reduction
- Boosts metabolism
- Improves bone health
- Increases immunity and fends of disease and infection
- Reduces food cravings and appetite
- Promotes childhood development
- Transports oxygen and vital molecules throughout the body for proper function
- And more…
As you can see, consuming a high-protein diet not only assists in muscle growth but can also help reduce body fat in combination. Moreover, because high-protein foods typically contain low amounts of fat and carbs, it inherently kills cravings and reduces appetite. In short, protein is the ultimate tool for your health and fitness goals.
Protein comes in many forms. It can be found in food like meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, and seafood, and can also be supplemented in powdered form.
Protein Powder Supplements Include But are Certainly not Limited To:
- Whey Protein Powder
- Casein Protein Powder
- Hemp Protein Powder
- Soy Protein Powder
- Mass Gainer
- Amino Acids (i.e. BCAA’s and EAA’s)
While protein supplements are certainly not necessary, they can definitely be used as an effective tool for convenience purposes, especially if you’re trying to build muscle mass and improve muscle recovery.
When your main goal is muscle building, an increase in protein intake should be a priority. While this can certainly be accomplished by simply increasing the amount of calories you are getting from protein in whole foods, it’s typically more conveniently accomplished via a protein supplement.
So, if you’re finding it difficult to get enough protein in your diet through whole foods, supplementing with a protein powder may be your next best choice! It can be an effective and efficient tool that you can use at your disposal.
How Protein Increases Muscle Mass
As we’ve mentioned several times throughout this article, protein is the building block of life, and by proxy, our muscles. By consuming adequate, proportionate amounts of protein on a consistent basis, protein helps maintain muscle mass and enhance muscle growth in conjunction with resistance training.
An important note here is that eating more protein doesn’t necessarily equate to more muscle. It’s imperative that you also combine a diet of sufficient protein with an effective exercise plan targeted towards hypertrophy and strength.
During resistance training, muscle tissue is broken down and blood is rushed to the targeted muscle. This is where the infamous “muscle pump” occurs during a workout.
After the workout is complete, it’s important to take the necessary steps to repair and recover. These protocols include consuming sufficient amounts of protein and carbohydrates, while also resting in order for the muscle to fully repair.
How Much Protein is Too Much Protein?
While the answer to this question varies across medical departments and nutritional experts, the general consensus is that a typical healthy diet should consist of 15-35% of protein overall. In other words, 15-35% of your calories should come from protein. Somewhere on the higher end of that spectrum is likely most optimal for your health.
This general recommendation is likely to change based on your goals, age, sex, level of physical activity, weight, height, and more. Nonetheless, a safe recommendation is 1-2 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
A key takeaway here is that more protein isn’t necessarily better for your health and well-being. Sticking to moderate amounts will result in the optimization of absorption, thus, optimal results.
Protein plays an essential role for our health and physical performance. Additionally, it helps us build and repair our muscles, among other things.
By following the recommended protein intake guidelines and taking part in an efficient and effective hypertrophy-based strength training program, you’ll be reaping the benefits of protein and muscle gain in no time!
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