It’s well known that protein helps you stay lean and strong, but most people are not educated on just how much you should be eating to reach your fitness or weight-loss goals. Your gym-rat buddy may recommend one thing while your nutritionist suggests another and that article online tells you something completely different. Here’s the low-down on the star muscle builder in your kitchen including why you need it, when you should eat it, and the amount you should consume to look and feel your best.
The basics of protein
Protein is any type of meat: chicken, steak, fish, turkey, etc. It also includes eggs, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and beans. Protein’s main function is to build and repair the body’s tissues, including muscles. Since protein is constantly being broken down, it’s important to consume at every meal, and especially after strenuous workouts.
How much protein do you need?
The RDA suggests 0.83 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for the average person. To find this, simply divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms then multiply by .83. For example if you weigh 180 lbs. or 82 kg, you’ll need 65.6 grams of protein daily. If you don’t have time to be weighing and counting, I suggest going by the size of your hand to eyeball the amount of protein to consume at each meal.
Does it matter when you eat it?
Since your body is always working to repair and build tissue, you must constantly replace your protein stores. Aim to consume 4 to 5 oz (25-30 grams) per meal for women and 6 to 7 oz (38-45 grams) for men every 2.5-3.5 hours.
Can protein help you lose weight?
Yes. Higher-protein foods require your body to work harder to break them down for use of fuel, so you’ll naturally burn more calories to digest them. Also, high protein foods make you feel fuller longer, so you’ll be less likely to overeat.
What if you don’t consume enough protein?
Your body needs protein to build muscle. When you don’t consume enough protein, your body will start breaking down the muscle to get the nutrients it needs. You will also put your organs, bones, and hair/nail growth at risk of deficiencies. You will feel easily fatigued and put your body at risk to get injured easily and have a slow healing process.
What about Protein Powders?
Protein powders are an easy way to ensure you get enough of the nutrient on the go! There are 7 different types of protein powders: Whey, Casein, Egg, Beef, Soy, Brown Rice, and Pea. Each type of protein is designed for different weight-loss and fitness goals, so when shopping for these essential powders, talk with a sales rep to find your perfect fit for your goals.