Protein & Whey -The low-down

white powder of whey protein

What is protein?

One of the 3 key macro nutrients, Protein is found in muscles, bone, hemoglobin, myoglobin, hormones, antibodies, enzymes, hair and nails. Muscles are only about 20% protein, therefore increasing muscle mass (or ‘toning up’) requires extra water, energy in the form of carbohydrates, and protein.

Whey protein is one of the two proteins found in milk, with the other being casein protein. Whey protein is the water-soluble part of milk & is the most popular protein supplement available. Due to protein’s effect and support to the majority of the major tissues in the body, we can see the importance of having protein in every meal. This includes breakfast!

Protein and exercise:

If you train, you need to realise how important protein is when it comes to supporting exercise. How many of you would say protein’s role is for muscle recovery and leave it at that? What about protein’s effect on whole body anabolism (building molecules) and protein synthesis (rebuilding of muscle tissue)? Or how many of you just wouldn’t have a clue?

Our bodies are forever breaking down and rebuilding, therefore the more we can be in a state of building, then the longer our hormones, immune system and muscles will be considered healthy. Remember, muscles need protein. The more muscle you have on your body (LADIES-THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU LOOK MANLY), the faster your metabolism. #Winning!

How Much:

From a vast amount of research studies, here are the most commonly used protein requirements.

  • If you are an athlete or highly active person attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean muscle mass, a daily intake of 1.5-2.2g/kg bodyweight (0.68-1g/lb bodyweight) is a good goal.
  • If you are an athlete or highly active person, oryou are attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean mass, then a daily intake of 1.0-1.5g/kg bodyweight (0.45-0.68g/lb bodyweight) is a good goal.
  • If you are sedentary and not looking to change body composition, a daily target of 0.8g/kg bodyweight (0.36g/lb bodyweight) is a good goal.

For example:

A 70kg man who is trying to build mass should aim to consume 1.5-2.2g protein per kg of body weight. We’ll say he trains a lot, so we will go with the higher end, around 2g per kg of bodyweight.

70(Man’s weight in kg) x 2 (grams of protein) = 140g protein per day.

When:

Pre-workout – Have a mix of protein/fat/carbs around 1-2 hours before you work out and you should be okay. If you exercise early in the morning you’ll have to figure out what way your body works best and when you have the most energy. You may need to eat something to get you through your workout first thing, if so, something as simple as ½ a banana or some yoghurt and nuts could do the trick. Then have your balanced meal afterwards.

If you prefer training fasted in the morning-do it! It has been shown that fasted cardio isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! In the grand scheme of things, fasted cardio has minimal benefits, if any, with regards to losing more fat than eating beforehand. Find what suits you!

Post-workout – Again, a balanced meal post-workout is ideal. It has been said that this is the best time to consume your starchy carbs like rice, potatoes etc. along with a good protein source and some fats. Although, as long as you are reaching your daily goals I wouldn’t worry too much about timing unless you are a serious athlete.

Including protein post-workout will up regulate protein synthesis (the rebuilding of muscle tissue) and positively affect gains in performance, strength and mass. Combine both meals with protein, carbohydrates and fat, whether it’s in a shake or a solid meal.

Good sources of protein:

The best sources of protein are from animal sources. Opt for fish, beef, poultry, game, eggs & dairy and if you are vegetarian (or for variety) include sources like nuts, seeds, pulses, tofu and soy.

Protein Powder:

Protein powder is not essential to your diet if you train, but it shouldn’t be ignored completely either. A protein shake can easily provide the right amount of protein at the right time. For those who aren’t hungry after they train, it’s less stress on the digestive system and just as effective to consume a combination of protein, fat and carbs in a liquid form.

The main advantage with whey protein is that it acts to quickly flood the blood stream with amino acids whilst stimulating insulin release at the same time, thus maximising recovery ability. Yes, food can do the same, so it comes down to your daily calorie intake, convenience, appetite, whey and dairy tolerance as well as training goals. I would recommend a general Whey Protein for those of you who feel you can’t quite get enough protein from foods alone. You can get around 25-30g protein in one scoop of powder mixed with water alone. I use Optimum Nutrition brand.

Ladies, don’t for one minute think that a protein shake will make you big and bulky, there’s plenty of men (who have 10x more testosterone than you) who are in the gym constantly trying to do just that – get ‘big and bulky’ and I am sure they would be able to tell you that a protein shake doesn’t quite do the job; it is just another way of getting the nutrients you need into you!

Whey doesn’t harm the liver and kidneys as you may have heard some people say. Although, people with damaged livers or kidneys should be cautious when increasing protein intake quickly before consulting a doctor. There’s a big difference.

So, to sum things up, consuming a whey protein can be beneficial for most people, it gives an extra boost of protein to those who can’t seem to get enough from food alone. Also, ladies can drink a protein shake and they won’t explode into the hulk. Who knew?!

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Alana xo

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