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How much PROTEIN should you be eating?

I get asked this question all the time by my clients. The answer is how much protein you consume is dependent on your goals and what you aim to achieve from your training.

When a client begins their journey with me, I ask them to keep a food diary. We go over it together and I recommend small, sustainable changes to improve their nutrition.

Why do we need Protein & what are the main benefits?

Every cell in our body contains protein. You need protein in your diet to help the body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is important for growth and development, it is made up of chemical building blocks called amino acids.

  • Speed up recovery after exercise and/or injury

  • Reduce muscle wastage/loss

  • Build lean muscle

  • Help maintain a healthy weight

  • Keeps you satiated for longer thereby helping with weight loss

Hitting Your Daily Protein Target

Protein has been a hot topic for the last few years, so much so that many food companies now label products as "high protein" or attempt to add protein into their products.

What are the current guidelines?

  • The UK government recommend 0.75 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day. This is based on the sedentary population not being involved in intense physical activity.

  • The current fitness guidelines state between 1.6g - 2.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day.

So how much protein should you be eating?

  • Be mindful of where your current protein intake sits. If you naturally eat a low-protein diet then getting up to the UK government-recommended intake is a perfect start (0.75g).

  • The 1.6g - 2.2g range is fine for anyone already consuming a moderate amount of protein. The benefits of protein do not scale with the more you eat. Going over 2.2g is unnecessary for the majority of people.

  • The situation where the higher 2.2g of protein is advisable is during a "cut" / diet where a calorie deficit is being adhered to. In this instance, your body is running at low energy availability and therefore will be turning to stored energy for fuel.

  • Your muscles are made up of stored proteins and these proteins can be converted to energy through a process called glycolysis. Therefore consuming a higher volume of protein can prevent stored protein in the muscle from being broken down and used as fuel.

It is important not to shift your diet too rapidly as this can (a) cause some GI tract distress and (b) cause some stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed with food choices, it is good to gradually make small, sustainable changes.

So when trying to lose weight it is suggested to adhere to a higher protein intake, especially if the overall deficit is fairly low. It is also worth noting that resistance training is required in addition to a higher protein diet to create a stimulus to help preserve muscle during the "cut" / diet phase.

For general health and muscle building, you can stick to around the 1.6g intake, but do not stress out if you are nowhere near where I have stated. Take your time to increase your intake, getting used to the alterations required to eat more protein in your meals.

Eat fresh whole foods, avoid processed foods, and nourish and fuel your body and mind!


Hayley x

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