Hello and welcome back to the blog, been ages since I posted due to a lot of university deadlines and life just generally getting in the way. Through unprecedented circumstances I have found myself with a lot of time on my hands due to isolation. I plan to fill my time with blog writing, CV building, learning new skills and general self-improvement so that I don’t look back on this time and feel like it’s been wasted.
As the title suggests this post is going to be about protein, many personal trainers and gym-goers will tell you how important protein is for our bodies. Whilst it is a crucial part of our development, I’m going to show you why it is not as important as you might think.
People go to the gym
How many grams of protein should I be consuming a day?
Government recommendation – 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Build muscle – Anywhere between 1.5 – 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Bodybuilders – Anywhere between 2 – 2.2 grams of protein per day
This is of course subject to a number of factors including weight, height, sex, how active you are.
What happens if I consume too much protein?
We all know about the many advantages there are to consuming protein, but what about the effects of intaking too much protein (>2.2 grams).
Wastage – The main thing that will happen if your body can’t deal with the amount of protein that you are ingesting is it will simply be turned to waste and excreted through urine.
Weight gain – Protein intake is often correctly associated with weight loss, however too much protein will be stored as fat in the body. It is important to work out how much protein you need dependent on age, gender, activity levels.
Organ damage – If too much protein is consumed over a long period of time then ammonia (toxin produced when consuming protein) can overwork the liver which is where the toxin is usually utilized. This in turn leads to a build up in the blood stream which could then lead to decreased brain and nervous system function.
Stomach upset – Due to protein being a lot harder to ingest than any other macronutrient, then this could mean that you become more bloated or fatigued especially if the fat content is high.
If your aim is to build muscle through hypertrophy then time consumption is absolutely key. For sedentary adults it is still important to spread protein consumption throughout the day to ensure that you have enough time to digest it and your body can handle it.
Anabolic window – To build muscle it is essential to consume protein after exercise, a lot of personal trainers, fitness instructors etc. will tell you that you need to consume protein within the hour post-workout. This is true, however there is a lot of new research that shows if you consume protein hours afterwards then this still has the same impact.
Distribution – All of the protein you consume within a day shouldn’t fall within a standard 3 meals. It should be spread out to ensure the muscles are always building, if the protein isn’t there then the muscles won’t build. A lot of bodybuilders will have 5+ meals a day just to make sure they get their protein content in.
Sleep – A lot of people will consume protein before bed to ensure that their muscles are still growing overnight. What you will find is muscles will increase in size and strength due to sleep and the fact that they need time to rest and grow. Muscles are shown to have built during deep sleep so this is also something to consider.
Protein shakes are they necessary?
Protein shakes are excellent at providing fast-hitting protein straight into the body post-exercise that mostly contain all 9 amino acids however one of the main points of protein shakes is commonly missed. This is that protein powder that makes up protein shakes is a supplement to use in your diet. This means it is in addition of all the protein that you consume throughout the day. So, if you’re consuming a necessary amount of protein already, then supplementing this will simply go to waste.
Protein shakes also do not contain some of the vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that protein food does. This is because protein food usually comes from animal sources with similar bodies to us whereas protein powder is completely man-made.
So, overall protein shakes are beneficial if you have not consumed your daily intake of grams of protein. They are fast to get protein to your muscles and high in protein content however they do not have the same health benefits as ordinary protein food.