A day after I cleared the Personal Fitness Trainer certification course from ISSA (in first attempt securing 97% marks), I was asked by a fellow in the Gym: “Why do we need protein?”

When Some One Ask, Why Do & How Much Protein I Need, Can You Answer?

Now there are a few myths that you keep on hearing in the health & fitness world such as that protein isn’t of much importance unless you’re a serious body-builder. So, I thought of penning down the facts about the purpose & role of protein, contentious myths, how much one should eat and provide a few tips on proper intake of protein.

Read on to find the answers why do you need protein, how much should you eat guidelines and tips.

Lean Body Mass & Protein

Protein is an important macronutrient that plays a big role in helping people to keep healthy. Moreover, it’s crucially needed to gain muscle size & mass. Whereas some exercisers might hurriedly adopt a high protein diet, others might be reluctant to do so because of their preferences or belief in some myth. Either way, the fact is that dietary protein consists of amino acids that have key role in your hormones, structure, enzymes, and immune chemicals and many more.

There’s a constant functional need for protein (amino acids). They keep breaking down & getting lost all the time, which means there’s a constant need to ingest a diet comprising of foods rich in protein.

This particularly is true in case your goals are to achieve muscle growth and/or lose weight/fat. The protein provides your body with building blocks of muscles & connective tissues (like ligaments & tendons). When you do weight/resistance training, your body purposely breaks down muscle tissue and needs building blocks (protein) to adapt & build bigger and/or stronger lean body mass. Hence, getting a specific amount of protein everyday day is absolutely necessary for fitness, health, muscle gain and weight loss goals.

Why Protein Is Needed For Body Weight/Fat Loss?

When an individual’s goal is fat/weight loss, generally, he/she follows a low-carb, high-protein diet. When the results are achieved, the individual sometimes think it’s the reduction/absence of carbs from the daily diet intake that has helped to achieve the goal(s).

However, it’s also true that ingesting high protein in the right proportion helps achieve the weight reduction goal in 2 ways. The 1st is that protein intake cut downs the individual’s appetite. This is so because it takes longer to break protein than most carbs and fats. As a result, the individual feels fuller longer when he/she eats a diet comprising of high-quality proteins. This phenomenon of appetite reduction is generally known as spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. This means the individual will be feeling fuller longer & therefore less likely to gorge on snacks at unnecessary times.

I already mentioned above that the protein helps the maintenance & growth of lean muscle mass. If an individual has more muscle tissue/mass, his resting metabolic rate improves because muscle burns more calories than fat to survive. A higher resting metabolic rate leads to burning of more calories every day. And, it’s the most basic principle that more the calories burn, higher the weight loss. Therefore, this is the 2nd reason why higher daily protein intake is helpful for reduction in body fat.

So, those who are curious to find out why getting adequate high-quality protein is so important in nutrition and fitness world – here are the reasons:

(i) Protein builds muscle size & mass

(ii) Enough intake of protein improves post-workout recovery

(iii) Protein rich diet helps quicker fat loss

(iv) Protein is critical for a healthy immune system

(v) Protein strengthens connective tissues (like ligaments & tendons)

(vi) Protein insufficiency skews body composition

How Much Protein Do You Need? Read on…

Now you know protein is necessary & good, particularly for active people. The next question you will ask is: “How Much Protein One Should Eat?”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Protein Recommendations For Your Diet

Generally, there are no recommendations for Percent Daily Value (%DV) for protein. Typically, the amount of grams (g) is used as a guide. Currently, 50 gm per day is recommended for protein, both for men & women. This is based on a 2,000 kcals (Calories) diet. (Source)

For individuals who work out, such as for trainers & athletes, more protein is required to gain muscle and help in recovery.

At present, there aren’t any studies to support that two grams of protein per kg of body weight is harmful – though research is still going on in this area.

For trainers who are moderately to super active, two to 3 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight is a very-very general guideline – which is much higher than the FDA recommendation.

Caution: But, always keep in mind that too much of protein can be harmful for anyone with kidney disease, kidney damage or suffering from Gout type diseases. They need to check with their doctors about protein intake. Remember that chronic kidney disease is a “silent disease.” Its symptoms are hard to detect. You need to get some simple tests performed at a doctor’s clinic to check if you have any issues with your kidneys.

Some Useful Tips On Protein Intake

(i) Select a variety of nutrient-dense protein foods. Examples are beans & peas, soy products, skim (fat-free) or low-fat (1%) dairy products, eggs, lean meats and poultry, seafood and unsalted nuts & seeds.

(ii) Go for fresh meats, poultry, & seafood, avoid the processed varieties.

(iii) Remove fat from meats before or after cooking. Also remove poultry skin before cooking or eating.

(iv) For plant sources, choose whole foods.

(v) Consider steaming, baking, grilling, or broiling. These cooking methods retain the most nutrients & do not add extra fat.

Read here the Best Tips For Building Muscle Mass

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