Are you eating enough protein? Research suggests, you're probably not.
In light of a couple of recent Facebook posts, regarding protein powders, posted by our MFW girls, I thought I would write about protein.
This blog post will look at:
- How much protein you 'should' be eating, in order to thrive, not just survive?
- Why it is important to build muscle (and how to lose fat)
- How to get protein in your diet?
- Can you consume enough protein in your diet from plants?
How much protein you 'should' be eating, in order to thrive, not just survive?
If you google "how much protein do I need to eat?" you will find a heap of articles that come up claiming that we only need 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. For example, if you weighed 60 kgs, you would need to eat 48 grams of protein per day. This does not mean eating 48 grams of chicken. What it means is, in 100 grams of chicken there is 30 grams of protein (and 3 grams of fat). So what these people on zee internets are saying is, you need to eat approx 150 grams of chicken per day, to get enough protein to survive.
I actually went into shock.
What a lot of these articles fail to tell you, is that you need that much protein in order to survive. If we just want to survive, then yes, 0.8 grams per kilo of body weight would be enough. But if we are looking to thrive, we need to eat more, way more protein!
When I say thrive, I mean, if you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight range, recover adequately after a workout and allow your body to properly repair and grow, then I highly suggest we eat more than this so-called 'recommended' amount of 0.8 grams per kilo.
According to a medical journal published on 'PubMed', a couple of years ago, it is suggested that we should eat 2.2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight.
So it you are 60 kilos, then it is suggested you need about 130 grams of protein per day. That's if you want to maintain your weight. If you are looking to build muscle, it is suggested you eat more.
But why would I want to build muscle?
Stay with me...
Why it is important to build muscle (and how to lose fat)
The truth is, 2 out of 3 Australian adults in 2014-15, were considered overweight, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. In other words, over 16 million people in this country currently need to lose weight.
However, the BIGGEST mistake people make when trying to lose weight is that they focus on losing 'weight' rather than losing 'fat'. For fat loss to be effective and for it to stay off, you need to maintain and ideally grow muscle.
Muscle burns more energy than fat. We want to be burning that energy when we are not working out. If we workout for 1 hour a day every day, that only equates to 4% of our total time per week. In order for effective weight loss, we want our bodies burning energy the other 96% of the time that we are not working out.
That is why we need muscle. We need to feed and repair the muscle, that's where protein comes in. Not only do we need protein to help repair and grow our muscles (and repair cells), when consumed, it takes 20% more energy to digest than it's fellow friends' fat and carbs. So we're actually burning energy while eating.
How to get protein in your diet?
So what does 'enough' protein look like? And how do I get it?
For those looking to maintain weight, a general rule of thumb is 2.2 grams per kilo of body weight.
If you were looking to lose weight then it is 2.2 grams per kilo of your ideal body weight.
Say you weighed 60 kilos or your ideal weight was to weigh 60 kilos. You would then need approximately 130 grams of protein per day (60 kilos x 2.2 grams of protein = 130 grams).
That's roughly 26 grams per meal (if you were to eat 5 meals per day).
You can get (approximately) 26 grams of protein from:
Chicken: 80 grams
Lean steak: 80 grams
Lamb: 90 grams
Smoked Salmon: 110 grams (which would also mean consuming 10 grams of fat)
White Fish: 110 grams
Eggs: 4 eggs (which would mean also consuming 20 grams of fat)
Chobani 0.5% yogurt: 250 grams
Cheese (low in fat): 200 grams
*Remember this is per meal and measurements are based on the protein being cooked.
*In order to consume 26 grams of protein, you need to eat these quantities 5 times per day.
To put all of that into perspective, a healthy balanced diet for a 60 kilo female, looking to maintain her weight, would mean she need to eat (approximately):
130 grams of protein per day
(30% of their daily intake of food is protein)
145 grams of carbs
(40% of their daily intake of food is carbohydrates)
50 grams of fat
(30% of their daily intake of food is fat)
Hang on, what about getting protein from plant based foods?
Mmmm let me explain...
Can you consume enough protein in your diet from plants?
The truth is, the body finds it very hard to absorb protein from plants, due to their incomplete amino acid profiles.
Even if you did manage to absorb all the protein from plants, then you would need to eat the following per meal, (in order to get your 26 grams of protein in each meal):
Quinoa: 600 grams, which would mean also consuming 126 grams of carbs and 11 grams of fat. A cup of quinoa is 200 grams. Three cups please!
Nuts: 110 grams, which would mean also consuming 50 grams of fat. A handful of nuts is about 30 grams....so if you had about 4 handfuls of nuts, however, that's a lot of fat!
Chia Seeds: 130 grams (see picture), which would mean also consuming 40 grams of fat. I add a teaspoon of chia seeds (and other seeds) to my shake in the morning. There would be about 5 grams of chia seeds per teaspoon.
Chickpeas: 340 grams (see picture), which would mean also consuming 64 grams of carbs). A can of chickpeas is 400 grams. Eat them straight from the can I say!
Legumes: 500 grams Half a kilo of legumes...I say no more!
So, the million dollar question is: are you getting enough protein?