11 Jan Your quick guide: All you need to know about protein From Soaring free Superfoods
We most often talk about protein when we’re referring to our physique, whether it is on a conscious or subconscious level. This is because we associate protein with muscle mass and fitness. Most of us understand what protein is and why we need it, but very few of us really understand how much we need and what types of protein are good for us. And yes, there are different types of protein that can have very different effects on our bodies, with some being less effective and actually more harmful than others.
Let’s look at the basics of protein so that we can understand how it affects our bodies, and choose the cleanest, most effective protein sources to deeply nourish our bodies on the most essential cellular level.
What’s the fuss about protein?
In short, protein helps replace worn-out cells, transports various substances throughout the body, and aids in muscle growth and tissue repair. Basically, our bodies need protein and amino acids to produce important molecules in our body – like enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies – and without an effective protein source or adequate protein intake, our bodies can’t function as well as they should.
You see, protein is made up of amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids and these are bonded together to form a protein molecule. They are essential for the body’s vital functions and they are categorised into three types: essential amino acids; conditionally essential amino acids; and non-essential amino acids. Some of these our bodies can produce and others we can’t, which is why we need to consume them through our food.
It’s important to get enough protein with the full spectrum of amino acids since it plays such a vital role in maintaining our body’s functioning. When we digest our food, the protein is broken down into individual amino acids, which are stored in our ‘amino acid reservoir’ circulating through our bloodstream. Our bloodstream continuously replenishes these amino acids for our cells, providing a fresh supply of amino acids as needed.
So how much protein do we need?
Well, that depends on a few factors like age, weight, how active you are, etc., but the amount of protein you need becomes more complex as you move through the different levels of protein reserves in the body. The levels of protein in the body range between optimal, baseline, and then sufficient (just before you become protein deficient). Protein requirements become much more personal depending on the level you are currently at and are specific to your lifestyle.
- PROTEIN SUFFICIENT INTAKE: for someone who is not training and weighs 68kg, consuming 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight would work out to 54g of protein per day.
- BASELINE PROTEIN INTAKE: for someone who is high-intensity training and weighs 68kg, consuming 1.4-2.0g of protein per kg of body weight would work out to 95-135g of protein per day.
- OPTIMAL PROTEIN INTAKE: you’ll need more protein than your baseline protein intake. For your ideal protein intake you may need to consult a healthcare practitioner and fitness coach, as it is very much person-dependent. Various factors such as dietary requirements, lifestyle aspects, fitness goals, including your body composition & build, contribute to your unique optimal protein intake.
Apart from eating enough protein to prevent protein deficiency and to allow basic protein synthesis in our bodies (building new proteins), we may need even more protein in our diets for optimal functioning, including good immune function, metabolism, weight management, and fitness goals.
In other words, we need a small amount of protein to survive, but we need much more to thrive.