Athletes are known to put strong emphasis on consuming dietary proteins. Lyle McDonald does a great post on how much protein athletes need.
That begs the question: What about everyone else?
Protein is one of the most important nutrients in the body, yet the general populus doesn’t seem to care about it. Here’s what their missing out on.
- It is the most satiating nutrient
- It spares lean muscle mass
Eating enough protein means that your body doesn’t need to derive it’s own source of protein; your muscles. Martin Berkhan believes in a high protein intake to maintain a ridiculously low body fat. For dieters, ensurring adequate protein ensures that what you’re exercising and dieting to burn off is fat and not muscle. For muscle heads, protein is going to ensure that your muscles have the building blocks to grow off.
- It supports immune function
- It’s good for you okay!
How to do get these Benefits of which you speak?
Simple, eat enough high quality protein. Meats, fish, dairy, eggs, beans, etc.
Athletes typically eat at least 1g/lbs of their bodyweight of protein per day. Some go up to even 2-2.5g/lbs. That is anywhere from 200g-400+g for a 200lbs athlete every single day.
How much is that? Well, 1kg of raw chicken breasts provide about 210g of protein.
Governing bodies don’t think that the regular person requires such a high amount of protein though, and the Recommended Daily Intake of Protein set by the FDA ranges from 50-65g a day, a low figure that doesn’t take into account bodyweight or activity.
So how much should the regular person eat?
Well, that depends on how “regular” is defined. If you’re talking about a 70kg sedentary male, then maybe even 100g of protein is plenty. But that’s not what who we want to be, do we?
Basically, for the person getting the oft encouraged 3-4 hours of exercise per week, I think the 1g/lbs bodyweight (2.2g/kg) is a great target, even for the “regular” person.
There is evidence that intakes of 2.8g/kg of protein per day has no negative side effects whatsoever, while conferring the benefits listed above.
Basically, more protein is potentially good for you, and is proven to do you no harm, so why not eat more?
The only group of people who should be worried about getting too much protein are those who have an underlying health issue like a kidney/liver disease.
But I’ve seen reports that the average American is eating more than enough protein
Probably true. And probably mostly from greasy burgers, burritos and other stuff like that. As Lyle McDonald points out, it’s largely a problem of too much calories rather than too much protein.
I’ve got nothing against getting proteins from fatty sources. In fact, there seems to be little problem with incorporating high fat protein sources into your diet.
As per everything else in life, moderation and portion control should be exercised. So if you’re not eating enough protein, consider bumping things up a little bit. You’ll be surprised by the difference.
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