The Importance of Protein

 

Protein is…

the most important macronutrient when it comes to building muscle and burning body fat.

It’s essential for maintenance and repair of all body tissues. Skin, hair, nails, and of course, your muscles.

You should include a good amount of protein in all of your meals.

This isn’t the case with carbohydrates. Carbs provide us with energy, so you should consume them with protein when you need them, such as before & after a workout. Fats can be distributed either equally through the day or you can include the majority of your fats in the lower carb meals if you like, to help fill you up.

Even if you’re not tracking your calories and macros, you should always ensure protein is your priority at every meal or snack because it is so important for building and maintaining muscle. This is relevant even if building muscle is not your primary goal and fat loss is; it’s still important to maintain as much muscle as possible because the more muscle you have, the more calories and fat you will burn.

A lot of the time when we go on a lunch break, we grab the quickest most convenient thing, such as a sandwich and some fruit. Even if healthy, these foods are usually high in carbohydrates and fats and have low to moderate amounts of protein.

Protein is generally found animal foods; meats, fish, eggs, dairy. So it’s not so easy to grab and eat some good quality cooked meat on the go. Nuts and seedsalso contain small amounts.

When protein is consumed it gets converted to amino acids (the building blocks of protein).

If you’re a regular gym-goer then I’d recommend a daily amount of about 1g of protein/pound of body weight. So if you’re a 175lb man for example you’d want to aim for 175g of protein throughout the day.

If we split that over 6 small meals a day, which you should be doing, then that’s around 29.1g of protein per meal.

If you think about it, your muscles are made of protein. So when you go to the gym to workout, you are breaking down those muscles, hence the need for more protein than the sedentary person. That’s why it’s important to consume either a high protein meal or a shake straight after your workout.

I recommend using ‘Whey’ protein or branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) immediately after workout because of its rapid digestion. This should be followed by a high protein and carb meal within about 45 minutes to an hour after that to provide a more steady flow of aminos and continuous recovery.

Most protein is usually digested and used by the body in 3 hours. So it’s important that you consume a protein meal every 3 hours or so, from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Because what happens after that is your body will go into catabolic state, meaning your muscles will be breaking down and providing your body with the aminos it needs for fuel. That’s the last thing you want to happen if you’re trying to build muscle, or even trying to maintain muscle whilst losing fat.

Most of us are trying to achieve a moderate to low body fat, so in order to make this easier it’s important to keep your muscle mass percentage as high as possible, even if you’re not interested in building muscle.