We all know you need to eat protein in order to lose body fat and gain muscle. But, have you ever wondered how much and why protein is so important in order to see changes in your body composition?
What is protein?
Proteins are part of the macronutrients (macros) that your body needs in order to properly function on a daily basis. Protein is a very important contributor for our tissues, bones, muscles, and blood. Did you know we end up tearing our muscle fibers after working out? Which is why it’s so important to consume high quality protein right after a gym session.
Should you eat a lot of protein if you want to lose weight or gain muscle?
As your average healthy adult, deciding to go on a high protein diet has a lot of positive benefits. Most importantly, protein leads us to feeling full and satisfied (causing you to eat less junk), boosts metabolism, and helps to maintain lean muscle mass. Take caution though, too much of anything is not good. If you’re not familiar with macro counting, protein consumption, or health in general make sure to consult a nutrition coach, nutritionist, etc.
Essential and nonessential amino acids:
Did you know there’s two categories a protein can fall under? Essential and nonessential amino acids (protein). Essential amino acids are proteins our body’s cannot make; they must come from our food. Nonessential amino acids are proteins that our body’s can make without the help of eating protein.
Once protein is eaten, it’s then broken down into amino acids and used in restoring parts of our body. Ingesting certain protein sources such as meat, allows your body to digest all nine essential amino acids (complete protein). However, adults on a plant based diet may have to do a bit more research when it comes to ensuring they are getting all the essential amino acids. Because most plant based proteins do not contain all the essential amino acids, someone who is on such diet may need to combine multiple protein sources to equate to all essential amino acids.
You can find essential amino acids in foods such as; meat, fish, nuts, seeds, tofu, soy, etc.
How much do you need?
When tracking macros, it’s best to include lean, essential proteins into your diet with a range of 10-35% of your daily caloric needs. However, if you’re routinely at the gym/lifting heavy weights, some people choose to consume up to 40% of protein in their daily meal plan.
A better rule of thumb may be consuming .8-1g per pound of body weight. (If you want to maximize on losing body fat/gaining lean muscle mass.)
Please remember to consult a nutrition coach, etc to help provide more in depth, customized information based upon your health and needs.
**Note: This is part three of a four part series.