Protein: the most worshipped macronutrient.
It kind of makes sense when you think about where the word “protein” comes from: the ancient Greek word “proteos” means primary or first. But do you know WHY it’s the first consideration when it comes to what your body needs?
Sure, protein builds muscle, but that’s not all it does. In fact, that’s only one of the many functions of protein.
From amino acids to proteins
The human body is full of thousands of proteins that are composed of combinations of the twenty different amino acids.
These amino acids help build all types of proteins that make up our enzymes, cell and blood transporters; they form the structure of our cells; they make up one hundred percent of our hair and fingernails; they make up most of our muscle, bone, and internal organs; many of the hormones produced by our bodies are made up of protein.
In short… protein enables most of our bodies’ functions, and without it, we would slowly wither away and die.
From proteins to energy
Our bodies are constantly utilizing protein to create energy, transport and store
nutrients, create hormones, maintain and build the tissues in our bodies and performing biochemical functions like digestion and muscle contractions.
That means we need to be consuming protein every day in order to ensure that our bodies are capable of handling the daily stress we endure. This is especially important if you are recovering from an injury/surgery, are an athlete, or an older adult.
Give me a guideline
Now, the problem with protein is what we’re told we should consume. You might be able to find a guide that tells you an amount, but the problem with google searches is that you will often turn up misinformation.
As for how much protein you should be consuming, the reality is it depends…but it can be figured out easily with some simple math.
Currently, the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for protein is 0.8 g/kg (0.36 g/lb); the more you weigh, the more protein you need:
- A 150-lb (68 kg) person would need 68 x 0.8, or about 54 grams of protein a day.
- A 200-lb (91 kg) person would need 91 x 0.8, or about 73 grams of protein a day.
Additional variables to consider
That generally works out to about 10 percent of daily calories coming from protein.
However, The Institute of Medicine (in the US) suggests a huge range in individual protein requirements: from 0.375 g/kg to 1.625 g/kg body weight (0.17 to 0.74g/lb bodyweight).
The individual’s requirements are also dependent on:
- How much total energy (i.e. calories) we eat or need
- Our carbohydrate intake
- When the protein is consumed
- Our biological sex
- Our age
- How active we are
- Our daily activity level
- How “eco-friendly” various protein sources are
So, in other words, our hypothetical 150-lb person might have protein needs ranging from 26 to 111 grams per day.
So now what?
Sit down and calculate your ideal protein intake and then take an honest look at what you’re currently eating. You may need to add more protein to your diet.
There are a lot of protein sources you can incorporate, including many that are plant-based; don’t assume that a protein deficiency means you need to go out and buy a $45 steak to grill up for dinner tonight.
In addition, stay tuned for more blog posts from me on protein! You can subscribe to the FitIn Blog by clicking HERE.
Lastly, you can book your free consultation with me HERE – as a nutritionist (as well as a certified personal trainer), I’m here to help you achieve ideal health.
Wes Van Hart is a personal trainer, nutritionist (and far more), located in Toronto. Wes is an advocate for constantly improving both physical and mental health, and as such, he is dedicated to advancing his knowledge base, certifications and ability to help his clients, no matter how that looks.
Wes was the very first FitIn affiliate, and is a regular contributor to the FitIn blog.