A Closer Look At Protein
What Is Protein?
Protein is one of three macronutrients. Each macronutrient plays a different role in supporting the optimal functioning of the body. Considering that there are three macronutrients, why the obsession with this seemingly insignificant macronutrient in the fitness industry? The answer is simple – protein is the key macronutrient used to build and repair muscle!
At a molecular level proteins are essentially ‘amino acids’ (organic compounds made of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen & Oxygen). However, not all proteins are equal – each protein source has a unique amino acid profile which your body synthesises, to varying degrees of efficiency, into proteins, to create and repair cells.
AMINO ACIDS > PROTEIN > MUSCLE TISSUE
We will now take a closer look at the significance of the aforementioned amino acid profiles to develop an understanding of the terms: ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’ protein sources. A complete protein source, is a protein which already contains all nine Essential Amino Acids (EAAs).
Although there are twenty amino acids only nine are consider to be EAAs. EAAs are amino acids which your body cannot produce. In other words it is ‘essential’ that we get these amino acids from our dietary intake. Complete protein sources contain all of the amino acids that your body needs for cellular growth and repair. Conversely, an incomplete protein source is a protein which is known to lack one or more of the nine EAAs making it an ‘incomplete’ protein for optimal cellular growth and repair.
Most complete protein sources originate from animal produce. With this in mind it is apparent why many fitness fanatics consume a large percentage of daily calories from animal produce. Common examples of complete protein sources include: chicken, cheese, eggs, fish, meat, milk, turkey and protein powders such as ‘whey’ and ‘casein’.
However, that does not mean that animal produce is the only useful protein source – far from it! We can source complete proteins from plants too! For example, soy contains all of nine of the EAAs! We can also combine incomplete protein sources to make complete protein sources. Although less common in Western societies, this approach is very common in Eastern societies. For example, combinations such as beans and rice are staples of the Eastern diet. When combined all of the nine EAAs are present making a complete protein source which your body can synthesis for cellular growth and repair! For those of you avoiding animal produce you’ll be pleased to discover that the following are considered complete vegan protein sources: buckwheat, beans & rice (when combined), chia seeds, Ezekiel bread, hemp, hummus & pitta (when combined), myocoprotein (Quorn), soy, spirulina, quinoa etc!
How Much Protein Do I Need?
Now we have established a basic understanding of protein sources and the function of protein in the human body the next question is “how much protein do I need?”
There’s no conclusive answer to the question “how much protein do I need?” Many factors influence protein requirements and the extent to which your body will utilize the protein it is provided. For example, an individual who has a lean body mass of 250lb and participates in hard physical exercise frequently will have a higher demand for protein than a sedentary elderly lady who weighs 125lb! Factor in coefficients such as anabolic compounds which enhance metabolic turnover and both the demand for protein and the efficiency of protein synthesis are increased further and thus the need for protein.
1g OF PROTEIN | PER POUND (LB) | PER DAY
As a basic rule the following is widely regarded as a general guideline for optimal muscle growth, 1g of protein, per lb of lean body mass, per day. For example, an individual with a lean body mass of 250lb would be aiming for a minimum of 250g of protein per day. Those who train very intensely may benefit by raising this number from 1g per lb to 1.5g per lb. Research suggests that after this level you reach a point of diminishing returns. However there is an exception to the rule! Those taking anabolic compounds AND training intensely may benefit from up to 2g of protein per lb given the enhanced rate of protein synthesis and increased metabolic turnover associated with anabolic compounds.
To calculate your protein requirement simply take your lean body mass (LBM) and multiply it by 1, 1.5 or 2, depending on which of the above most closely resembles your current situation.
When Is The Best Time To Have Protein?
Your body requires protein at all times. However, there are certain times when the demand for protein increases, immediately after intense exercise, for example.
If we use the previous hypothetical example of the 250lb individual and go for the middle figure of 1.5g of protein, per lb, per day we come out with a daily requirement of 375g of protein(250lb x 1.5g = 375g)!
That is a lot of protein especially when there’s also carbs and fats to be added to that total too! To give you an idea of what that looks like that is just under 1.2kg (2.6lb) of lean meat or 63 whole eggs a day! Don’t be overwhelmed we will show you how to hit your requirements in easier to manage portions soon!
Protein and Nitrogen
Have you ever noticed that people concerned with muscle growth and recovery always seem to be eating? There’s a reason why! If those individuals realise it or not that reason is – NITROGEN! Normal growth, cell replacement and tissue repair all require nitrogen for production of new cells. Although nitrogen is abundant in the atmosphere humans cannot directly utilize nitrogen from the atmosphere. Instead we utilize nitrogen through our dietary intake.
However, our bodies are not able to store nitrogen in a usable form. This is why bodybuilders always seem to be eating, they are ensuring they have a positive nitrogen balance in their body. Without a positive nitrogen balance your body becomes ‘catabolic’ in other words your body is breaking down faster than it is repairing. Protein is unique in the sense that it is the only macronutrient to contain nitrogen. Given that we cannot store nitrogen in a usable form and protein is the only macronutrient to contain nitrogen it should be clear that we need to consume protein regularly for optimal growth and recovery!
Back to the hypothetical 250lb individual needing 375g of protein a day! How do you do it? How do you get that amount of protein into your diet, day in, day out? After all, consistency is key! It is very simple you break it down into manageable portions. Not only does this make it easier to consume it also ensure there’s a steady supply of nitrogen throughout the day! As a general rule, for optimal muscle growth and recovery you should be eating every three hours! Break that down further and you are looking at around five to six meals a day.
How Much Protein Do I Need In Each Meal?
TOP TIP: If your goal is optimal muscle growth and recovery we recommend that you always have a liquid based fast absorbing protein immediately after training! Why? Resistance training doesn’t actually build muscle per se. In fact resistance training breaks down muscle tissue – it is ‘catabolic’. It is the recovery period after which results in the muscle growth IF adequate protein is consistently supplied. Immediately after training you need a protein source which will get to the muscle quickly to stop the muscle breakdown and instead start the anabolic muscle growth and recovery process as quickly as possible! A liquid protein source such as our MyoPROBURN is perfect for this!
Take your total (375g) which we showed you how to calculate previously and divide it by the total number of meals (including the post-workout shake).
375g of protein / 6 meals = 62.5g of protein per meal.
From this we know this individual needs 62.5g of protein per meal. Given that MyoPROBURN contains 30.9g of protein per serving we know that if we have 2 scoops of MyoPROBURN we have almost perfectly hit the total of 62.5g of rapidly absorbed protein in our post-workout shake!
That’s one meal taken care of! For the other 4 or 5 meals simply calculate the quantity of each food needed to provide the protein you require using the same method. For example, if 100g of beef contains 31g of protein then you will require just over 200g of beef to provide the required protein amount of 62.5g for that meal. Simply repeat this process for each meal until you have the required protein total for the day. Add in your carbs and fats and you’ve got a solid foundation for optimal muscle growth and recovery!
Now we’ve shown you how to do it, there’s no excuse not to do it! Start today! Track your protein intake, hit the totals and the results will show!