Many people have doubts when it comes to establishing their macros (amount of carbs, protein and fat they should eat everyday). Between the vast amount of advice on the internet and official government health organization recommendations this can be a truly confusing task. Basically the general recommendation is to eat 0.8g/kg of bodyweight. This means that an average sedentary man, weighing 80kg should consume 64 grams of protein a day. But of course, that all depends not only on your size and lifestyle but also your goals.
Function of Protein
Protein is the building block of every cell of your body. It is the most abundant substance in your system, after water. Repair and growth are one of the vital functions of protein which is one of the reasons children and physically active people require more than sedentary adults. It can also be used for energy, but in case of sufficient carbohydrate intake spare protein will be turned into fat. Protein is involved in the regulation and metabolism of some hormones and enzymes. These are responsible for regulating vital bodily function. For example insulin is a small protein – a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Protein also forms precious antibodies that help fight illness and disease.
So How Much Do I Need?
If you train regularly for fat loss and muscle gain you will need around 2g/kg of bodyweight. Intense training breaks down your muscles and in order for them to regenerate and grow you will need to provide it with lots of quality protein. If you find it hard to eat protein rich foods, you can help yourself with protein shakes and bars. According to Dr Karen Reid, a sports science nutritionist, after a while you can reduce this intake down to 1.2-1.6g/kg of bodyweight or if your training is not as intense as the bodybuilding regime you can also take in less than 2g/kg. For those dieting for fat loss this is also beneficial as protein provides satiety and helps you stick to a clean diet and lose weight. Apart from your usual food protein try a shake before and after workout.
How Much is Too Much?
Stuffing your face with 10 steaks at a time is neither reasonable nor beneficial. There are a few main reasons for that.
Firstly, your muscles will not grow automatically from consuming protein. In fact, without the energetic expenditure protein will simply be transformed into fat cells. However, remember that swapping carbs for protein will enable weight loss. Your body burns fat before it does protein.
Secondly, you can only absorb around 30g of protein at a time. Now you know why bodybuilders eat little and often. Thirdly, timing matters so try to focus your intake around workouts. The 30-minute post-workout window is when you need this rapidly absorbed protein to optimize muscle repair and growth. This is when you will need a simple quick snack such as a whey shake like Rule 1 Protein or Whey Protein Gold Standard some milk.
Lastly, too much unneeded protein and nitrogen from the amino acids puts extra strain on your liver and kidneys, which have to filter it out.