Protein: What's the beef?


Protein is an important macro-nutrient. It's primary function is the growth and repair of muscle tissue. We are advised to consume around 0.75g of protein/kg bodyweight every day, however most of us exceed that regularly.

There is a real trend nowadays of eating tonnes of protein everyday in a bid to "get lean" or "get ripped", and as a result you can find products supplemented with protein EVERYWHERE! Including (but not limited to): protein powders, protein cheese (erm, yes cheese does already contain protein), protein yogurt (yep, yogurt does too), protein bread and, most annoyingly, protein water (!!!!!).

Now, if you actually enjoy the taste of these high protein products, that's fine, consume at your leisure. But do not buy them with the assumption that they are "healthy" or will make you muscle-y.

Here's my problem with the high protein trend:

  • There is only so much protein your body can process and store. Our bodies are not able to store much protein (some gets stored in muscle tissue). So what you don't use up for muscle growth and repair is excreted/peed out. What's more, high levels of protein raise your glomerular filtration rate (your kidney's filtration system). If this is raised for a prolonged period it can affect renal function. The upper limit for protein intake is set at 1.5g/kg bodyweight per day- eating more than this is not necessary for "health".

  • I see lots of people opting for high protein, low carb diets when they're trying to crush it at the gym. There's a key problem with this- carbohydrates are protein sparing. That means, when you eat enough carbs and protein, carbs are used for energy and protein can be used for muscle growth and repair. But if you don't get enough carbs, protein has to be converted to glucose for energy. Not only is it more difficult for the body to produce energy from protein, it also means that you're muscles won't be benefiting from the protein.

  • Protein is naturally occurring in many foods that are cheap, readily available and tasty. Why would you spend your hard earned money on a supplement that is not necessary (and in my experience gross)? Protein supps have great marketing, but don't believe the hype. You do not need them.

Disclaimer: There is 100% a time and a place for protein supplementation- e.g. patients recovering from illness, elderly patients experiencing muscle wastage, if you can't get food soon after an intense workout etc. But my point is that for most of us, it isn't necessary on a regular basis.

Take home message:

  • Get protein from food where possible- think meat, fish, tofu, Quorn, beans, lentils and eggs.

  • Remember that carbohydrates are vital for your body- include them at every meal.

  • Don't waste money on supps that are not needed.

Lots of Love,

Little O x

#nutrition #nutritionist #nondiet #nondietnutrition #antidiet #protein #highprotein #supplements #tyneandwear #Newcastle #Sunderland

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