Some people think protein is just for bodybuilders, but in fact everyone needs it. Protein improves your metabolism, helps you burn fat and maintain lean muscle mass. It also contributes to a healthy brain, blood, hair, nails, and other internal organs. Not getting enough protein can lead to muscle deterioration, brittle hair, skin conditions, slow recovery from injuries and more.
Check out this blog post for some quick and nutritious meals and shakes to help you hit your recommended daily protein intake.
What Kind of Protein You Should Have
Protein abounds in animal products such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Fear not, vegetarians, because you can also get protein from nuts, legumes, grains and other greens such as broccoli. While it’s certainly possible to reach your recommended protein intake from food alone, taking other proteins in the form of powders can give you a major boost.
Whey protein is celebrated in gyms far and wide as the best option for working out. Derived from milk, whey protein is absorbed much faster than others, appearing in your bloodstream within 15 minutes of ingestion. Whey protein also contains 10 percent of the amino acid leucine – which activates protein synthesis – compared to other proteins that have as low as 5 percent.
Casein, also milk based, absorbs more slowly than whey protein but provides amino acids over a longer time. This makes it perfect for maintaining a healthy protein balance throughout the day or even while you sleep.
When You Should Have Protein
There is evidence to suggest that total daily protein intake matters more than when you have it. However, since your body can only absorb so much protein at a time, having your entire day’s protein intake in one meal is going to leave much of it unabsorbed. Because of this, it’s best to spread your protein out across several meals and snacks, so your body can fuel muscle growth for more of the day.
Relative to workouts, protein is needed both before and after exercise. Taking protein an hour or two before working out gives your body the fuel to work properly, increasing protein synthesis. Taking protein after working out lets your body replenish what’s been lost and repair damaged muscles so they can come back stronger.
How Much Protein You Should Have
But what exactly is the recommended daily protein intake? At a minimum, a person should have 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. However, this may only be enough to stave off deficiency; if you want to achieve and maintain optimal health, or achieve a certain physique, you need more.
To lose weight (and keep it off), protein is a big help. Studies have found that a protein intake of 30 percent of calories (0.075 x calorie intake) makes a huge difference in both losing weight and reducing calorie intake. So a person on a 2000 calorie diet would need 150 grams of protein per day for optimal weight reduction.
For building muscle, the minimum 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight increases dramatically. While experts disagree on the optimal amount, the general consensus finds that 1.5 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram will give you enough intake for your needs. If you are elderly, recovering from an injury or just lead an active lifestyle, you will also require more protein than the minimum to maintain a healthy balance.