As you probably already know – protein – the ‘building blocks’ of all of our cells is crucial for all bodily functions. It regulates processes such as tissue growth and regeneration as well as managing and producing hormones. You may also know that it’s very important to have a high protein diet especially if you are an athlete or you have a hard training routine. After a workout our muscle fibers are ‘torn’ and have to be regenerated and repaired as soon as possible. Protein has such anti-catabolic properties and helps our cells (including muscle) grow and recover. It has also been established that 30 minutes before and after workout are the optimal times to consume protein (or extra protein) in order to reduce catabolism and maximize muscle growth. But how much is too much? Can an unlimited amount of protein be consumed at any given time?
Basically, when we ingest protein, the stomach breaks it down to amino acids by means of stomach acid and enzymes. Amino acids are then transported into the small intestine and further into the bloodstream. They are then distributed into all the various cells in your body. But the small intestine can only shoot a limited number of amino acids into our bloodstreams per hour. This is why only a limited amount of protein can be absorbed at any given time. According to estimates whey protein can be absorbed at a rate of 8 to 10 grams/hr casein at ~6.1 g/hr, soy at ~3.9 g/hr, and cooked egg at ~2.9 g/hr. Also, according to another study, our muscles won’t use more than 30 grams of protein consumed at one meal. Unfortunately this matter can’t be simplified as it all depends on numerous factors. Some of those include:
-Type of protein eaten- whether its Whey Protein Gold Standard or a steak?
-What are you eating it with? On its own or with fat and carbs?
-The fiber content of the whole meal – more fiber equals slower absorption
-When you last ate – are you full or hungry?
These factors can affect the protein absorption. For example a steak will take longer to be broken down and move through your digestive system and therefore you will benefit more from a steak than chugging 3 whey shakes at a time. Also, as much as the protein will be used in your body, it may not be used for muscle building in excess of the said 30-40 grams.
This information is crucial, not only in order to maximize muscle growth and anti-catabolism but also to avoid over – consuming protein and storing the excess as fat. Keep in mind that it is still important to stick to the recommended daily intake. Spreading it out through the day and increasing your pre- and post -workout intake will maximize your muscle and strength gains. Try to have a balanced diet and alternate between supplements and whole foods rather than drinking shake after shake. Many sources agree that you should be getting most of your protein from food and limit your supplementation to 2 shakes a day, such as Rule One Protein, to maintain balance and health.
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.
So what do I need??
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1 dropper full of stevia
-1 cup applesauce
-1 tbsp. vanilla
-2 cups grated zucchini
-1 scoop of whey protein you can try either whey protein gold standard or chocolate protein powder
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-3 cups whole wheat flour
-dash of almond milk
So now what??
-Mix the ingredients eggs – vanilla together in a mixing bowl
-Add in the zucchini – baking powder ingredients. Mix well.
-Finally, add in the flour and mix until flour is all the way mixed in.
-Add a dash of almond milk and mix again.
-Pour into 2 large bread pans
-add the chocolate chips to one or both of the pans! Yummo!!
-Bake for 54 mins at 350 degrees.
-eat up…not the whole pan:)
So you’ve reached a point where you have your diet and workouts all figured out. But are there any supplements that could maximize your results further? What kind of shakes do you usually go for and why? If you are still unsure hopefully this article will clarify which ones to use and when.
Casein is the main protein present in milk and cheese and it is considered a ‘slow’ protein. In practice this means that around 3 to 4 hours after consumption it reaches the highest levels of blood amino acids and protein synthesis. But what is the reason for this? The simple answer is that it moves through the digestive tract slower and it takes up to 7 hours to fully digest. One common explanation is that casein coagulates in the stomach and forms gel-like ‘clots’ that cannot be quickly digested.
According to the study conducted at the University of Giessen the explanation for the slow release of casein protein is different altogether. The study concludes that the slow digestion of casein can be attributed to casomorphins (protein particles) present in casein. In casomorphins are peptides formed during the digestion of casein. These particles can cause in some aspects similar results to those of opiates. Of course, they do not cause any sort of intoxication but they can be expected to bind to the opiate receptors in the digestive tract and affect the intestinal activity, slowing down the digestion process.
Thanks to the slow release slow digest properties, casein has been called an ‘overnight protein’. It is excellent to take before bed to ensure you put your body in the optimal state for muscle recovery and growth all night long. No need to get up and have a ‘mid-night shake’. According to a study conducted at Baylor University, men who drank a casein protein shake for 10 weeks gained significantly more muscle mass than the ones who consumed whey only. For long term muscle recovery casein as opposed to whey, which may pass through your body before you reap all its benefits, will provide a lasting anticatabolic effect. It is also believed to have metabolism increasing properties so that you can build lean muscle mass and burn fat quickly and more efficiently. What’s more, it turns out that casein significantly increases strength! In a Massachusetts study, it was discovered that casein doubled the effect of whey protein on legs, chest, and shoulder strength. But you don’t necessarily need to drink shakes ever night. If you opt for a late night snack (or simply for your supper) consider including milk products such as milk and cheese. Also, if you are on a low calorie diet, casein will prevent muscle breakdown that could normally occur in a calorie deficit.
Additional benefits of casein include protecting tooth enamel, promoting intestinal health (especially when compared to meat and soy protein sources). Finally, casein is a good choice for vegetarians who work out and want to maintain a good level of high quality protein in their diets.
Even though there is no magical supplements out there, slow digesting casein such as Rule 1 Protein, is superior for muscle recovery and quality protein. Don’t forget about balance (whey also has its benefits and uses) and try to keep a healthy proportion between shop bought supplements and natural milky products.
Most people think that Protein Powder is just something you should drink after a vigorous workout. Put it in your shaker, add your water and be on your way or add in some ice, fruit and almond milk and have it as a meal.
Sure that sounds good but did you know you can also add it to many different recipes to up your protein intake? I’m listing a few of my favorite recipes that incorporate protein powder into them. Try them out and let me know what you think! If you have a favorite please comment on it and we will try it out and see if it makes the cut here at Supplement Central!
Strawberries and Cream Protein Breakfast:
A great way to start your morning. Strawberries & Cream loaded with protein
What do I need?
-1/2 cup quick rolled oats
-1 cup almond milk
-1/2 cup strawberries (cut up small)
-1 scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder
-place the milk in a saucepan, whisk in the protein and heat over medium heat until warm. Add in the oatmeal and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from stove and add in the berries. Eat, Enjoy:)
Protein Packed Quiche with a Chickpea Crust
We love a quiche. You can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
What do I need?
-1-15.5oz can chickpeas
-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
-1/4 cup protein powder
-2 tbsp. olive oil
-6 pieces turkey bacon
-2 1/4 cup egg whites
-1 cup milk
-1 -10oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
-1 oz. crumbled blue cheese
– 1/2 tsp. salt
-preheat oven to 350F. grease 9 inch pie pan. pulse chickpeas, flour, protein powder & olive oil in a food processor and spread the dough evenly over the pie pan. Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes at 350G or until light golden brown.
-place bacon in skillet and cook over medium heat until crispy. Remove from heat and crumble
-With whisk mix together bacon, egg whites, spinach, blue cheese, milk and salt. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the pie pan and prebaked crust. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until set.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional info: 200 Calories, 7 grams fat, 4 fiber, 17 grams protein.
Stay tuned for more great recipes every week!