How Much Protein Do I Need? Calculate How Many
Grams You Need
as we know is a vital nutrient that plays several roles in the body.
Protein transports nutrients in the bloodstream, assists in promoting
blood clotting; and aids in fluid, electrolyte and pH balance. Protein
has a crucial role in the growth and maintenance of lean muscles,
bones, nails and the crucial heart muscles. Athlete, especially
those participating in high intensity, weight bearing sports such
as running, are constantly breaking down muscle tissue and protein
assists in rebuilding those muscles.
There is no denying that protein is crucial to ones diet,
however, there are some misconceptions-especially around health
conscience and physically active people-about what it is, what is
proteins function in the body, how much is necessary and what
is the best way to incorporate it into a healthy diet? Following
are some tips to help you in making smart choices to keep your body
healthy and strong.
Why is protein so important? The human body requires protein to
serve as the building blocks for new tissues and to replace worn-out
cells. Unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein does not have a set
storage form for use as energy. If there is not sufficient protein
available from food, the body begins to break down the tissues in
the blood and liver, then from muscles and other organs. That is
why, as an athlete, you need to consume optimal protein on a regular,
daily basis, along with sufficient carbohydrates to provide fuel
for strenuous exercise.
As many athletes believe, more is always better. For endurance
athletes, additional protein is necessary, but probably not as much
as you may think. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 0.8
- 1 gram per kilogram (kg) of body weight. In comparison, endurance
athletes require about 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg. Optimal protein intake should
equal the amount excreted to keep the body in nitrogen balance.
Excessive protein intake can be hard on the kidneys and may interfere
with calcium absorption.
The easiest way to obtain your daily protein requirements is to
think in terms of percentage of calories instead of counting grams
of protein. One gram of protein has four calories and you
should aim for about twenty percent of your daily calories to come
from protein. Fifty-fifty-five percent from carbohydrates and the
final thirty- percent from fat and of which, less than ten percent
should come from saturated fat.
What are the best sources of protein? Protein is available in many
foods and is easily accessible. Consuming a varied diet ensures
that you are obtaining protein from a wide variety of sources, The
protein from animal sources offer a complete protein source meaning
all of the essential amino acids or building block of protein, are
present. Sources such as eggs lean poultry, beef and fish. Dairy
sources, nuts and nut butters and seeds add to the vast selection
of protein sources. Legumes are derived from the plants of the bean
and pea family that also contain amino acids. Approximately eighty
percent of these proteins are bio-available or digested and absorbed.
Vegetarians have to be a little more creative when choosing protein
sources to ensure they too are getting all the essential amino acids.
An easy way to do this is to combine a legume such as beans, lentils,
peas, or soy products with a whole grain. These food combinations
do not have to be at the same meal but should be consumed over the
course of the day. Other great options for vegetarians are tofu,
seitan or tempeh, gardenburgers or soy dogs.
Now that you are armed with the above information, consuming the
appropriate amount of protein for your activity level should be
easy to figure out. With all of the options available to endurance
athletes, or weekend warriors, there are more than enough options
to choose from so be creative and try a new source!