‘Protein’ is probably a PT’s favourite word (apart from Burpees 😂). But just why do we place so much emphasis on eating protein?
As Personal Trainers, our top request is to help clients lose body fat and gain lean muscle, and whilst in exercise terms, a combination of resistance training and cardio are essential to achieve this goal, just as important is good nutrition. And our nutrition advice for most clients would almost always include increasing protein intake.
From a ‘fat burning’ standpoint, protein takes longer to digest than carbs, so you feel fuller, more satisfied, and less likely to head back to the snack cupboard. Protein also requires more energy to be digested than carbs or fat, which means you’re actually burning more calories whilst processing it. Our bodies are unable to effectively burn and use fat as energy without help from either carbohydrates or protein and since during weight loss you are probably losing some muscle as well as fat, it is particularly important to have sufficient protein in your diet to help preserve your lean muscle. Protein is made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle within the body and it is critical for their repair and growth, particularly if the body is in calorie deficit and therefore in danger of losing muscle.
There are many different recommendations when it comes to the amount of protein we should be consuming – typically the range would be anywhere from 0.8g per kg of bodyweight for those with a more sedentary lifestyle, to more than double that amount at 1.7g per kg of bodyweight for people training regularly or those with particularly active lifestyles. In order to reap the rewards of a higher protein intake, we would recommend somewhere between 1.3g and 1.7g of protein per kilo of bodyweight and we would suggest eating some protein at every meal. As an example, this means that for someone weighing 60kg (around 9 1/2 stone) their total daily protein intake would be between 78g and 102g.
So, how achievable is this, and how much protein is there in some of our favourite foods? Following are the approximate protein contents for a range of foods to give you an idea of what could be included together with a good selection of fresh vegetables, salad and fruit and small servings of carbs such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, wholegrain bread, quinoa, etc.
- 2 whole eggs scrambled = approx 12g protein
- Small (4oz) grilled chicken breast = approx 30g of protein
- 6oz grilled sirloin steak = approx 32g protein
- Grilled or oven baked medium salmon fillet = approx 23g protein
- Peanut butter = 3-4g per tablespoon (bear in mind that whilst peanut butter is a great snack with crudities or rice cakes, this is also a high calorie food at 95 calories per tbsp!)
- Greek yoghurt (such as Fage Total 5%, 200g pot) = 18g protein
- Turkey mince is a great alternative to beef mince for meatballs or burgers, 3oz = 20g protein
- 100g Houmous = 8g protein
- 50g cheddar cheese = 12g protein
If you’re training 3 or 4 times a week and need a protein boost, or if you are struggling to make your protein quota purely from food, it is possible to increase your protein intake with a good quality protein supplement taken mixed with water or added to oats or a smoothie. Typically a 25g serving of protein powder will contain around 20g protein.
So it’s easy to see just why we’re such fans of protein: It helps you feel fuller longer; it makes you feel more satisfied; helps to curb cravings and snacking; it burns more calories during digestion; it helps the body to burn fat and it promotes muscle growth and repair after workouts. What’s not to love?! 😍
Obviously, it is important to remember that as with any macronutrient, calories count and it is still possible to overindulge. But as general rule, many of us could benefit significantly from increasing our protein intake at the expense of some of our carbs and fat. Give it a go and let us know how you get on 😃
Image credit : ID 88788129 ©Aamulya | Dreamstime.com