Protein. Everywhere. It seems to be the latest buzz word in the ‘healthy food’ world. We’re seeing protein chocolate bars and protein cereal, not to mention protein snacks and general advertising of the fact that a food contains protein. Albeit that the celebrated amounts of protein are usually pretty slim; Weetabix Protein gives you an extra 3g protein per portion than normal Weetabix, for example.
Overall though, I think this general awareness of ensuring your protein intake is sufficient is a good thing. I think amongst people just trying to stay healthy, protein is generally under eaten.
So, how much is enough?
Well, if you’re not doing particularly strenuous exercise, you are probably pretty safe with about 1g protein per kilo of your body weight. If you are doing strenuous exercise where your body needs to devote resources to recover from, then you do need significantly more than this. 2.2g protein per kilo bodyweight has been researched as safe, but really, somewhere around 1.5-1.7g per kilo bodyweight is sufficient in most cases.
Although you can probably get about around 1g/KG each day by aiming for a generous fist sized portion at each meal, it probably IS worth spending the extra time weighing out what protein you’re eating on an average day and seeing whether you’re in the right ball park. Type into google ‘protein in 100g XYZ’ and work out how much you get during the day. 100g of chicken breast is not 100g protein, it’s about 30g protein. You only need to do this a couple of times to get a good gauge for how much you need to eat – and it is likely to be more than you expect.
This does NOT count as a high protein diet, it is simply eating sufficient protein.
How about if you’re vegetarian or vegan? Well, your body still needs the protein, and you can absolutely get it from non-meat / fish sources, it just takes more effort and commitment. Eggs are of course an easy one if you eat them, then it’s worth looking into hemp, edamame and pulses – you need a variety of protein sources to get the full array of what you need when you’re not eating meat.
There are plenty of side effects to eating sufficient protein which stretch beyond maintaining your health and allowing your body to repair itself properly. From a fat loss point of view, protein is the most satiating food you can eat, it keeps you feeling full from your meals and is pretty effective at reducing food cravings.
So, pay attention to your protein intake and see how it affects you – and let me know, I’d be really interested to hear.