8th January 2016 by Jess
If you’re trying to be more active this new year, protein is your new best friend. You might have heard phrases like “smart fuel” and “workout recovery” – this is because of the essential amino acids found in protein, which help repair and strengthen muscles.
Women simply do not have the hormonal programming to allow for muscle growth in the same way as men.
On the contrary, there is evidence that protein speeds up the metabolism, meaning it may help towards fat burn, toned looking muscles and a leaner body shape especially if paired with regular exercise.
How much protein you need depends on lots of factors, but one of the most important is your activity level.
The basic recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day in the average adult. So a 68 kg (150 lb) person should consume at least 54 grams a day. If you’re doing high intensity training that would go up about 2g per kg. [source]
We need a small amount of protein to survive, but we need a lot more to thrive.source
Without an adequate protein intake, our bodies don’t function nearly as well. Protein transports various substances throughout the body, helps replace worn out cells and aids in growth and repair.
It also helps strengthen your immune system, maintains a healthy weight, keeps your metabolism ticking over and keeps you performing at a high level both in and out of the gym.
If you overeat protein, the extra is converted to sugar or fat, but 30% of the energy goes towards digestion, compared to only 8% of sugar and 3% of fat.*
A lot of people worry that a high protein intake harms the kidneys - this is a myth. In healthy people, normal protein intakes pose little to no health risk. Plant proteins are especially safe.
*source: Tappy L. Thermic effect of food and sympathetic nervous system activity in humans. Reprod Nutr Dev 1996;36:391–397.
We can only process so much protein at one time so it is best to consume protein in pulses throughout the day at regular intervals rather than in one sitting, so include some form of protein with every meal and snack.
Top tip: consume some protein before and after training to ensure adequate recovery.
By Jess, graze nutritionist.
Our nutritionist extraordinaire, Jess trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and is a registered practitioner with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She's the creator of our health badges, to help you choose the snacks and boxes that are right for you. Check out everything from Jess on our blog, with recipes and tricks to help you keep making better choices, or go to Jess's blog at jessipes.co.uk for even more.
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