Daily protein intake will always be a highly debated topic. New research studies and effectiveness testing are always in motion. This article will shed some light on just how much protein our bodies need on a daily basis.
While this may seem obvious, everyone’s body is different and all bodies respond to food differently. With that in mind, we will begin with a basic description of protein, the similarities that all bodies have, and how they handle protein.
What is protein and what does it do?
Proteins are organic molecules that are made up of amino acids. Of the amino acids, there are two main groups: essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids.
The essential amino acids are the type that the body can’t create. Thus, this is where our diet becomes important.
Protein helps to replace old and damaged cells, move various substances throughout the body, and is helpful for growth and repair of tissue. Proteins are responsible for making enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and other tiny molecules that serve various functions in the body.
Similarities for daily protein needs
1. Our bodies can only store so much protein at one time. No matter if you’re a hulking body builder or a couch potato, the body’s protein stores move fluidly throughout the day.
2. According to Authority Nutrition, protein intake is not just a matter of quantity. The quality of your daily protein intake is just as, if not more, important. Lower quality sources of protein may not be optimal for our bodies digestion and absorption.
3. In general, active individuals need more protein than their sedentary counterparts. During exercise, protein breakdown occurs as well as intramuscular protein oxidation. To encourage muscle retention, a diet higher in protein will encourage new muscle development and maintenance of what already exists.
Protein intake recommendations
Depending on your personal goals, body size and level of physical fitness, your recommended levels of daily protein could differ greatly.
Weight Loss: For people aiming toward a weight loss goal, protein intake near 30% of calories seems to be just right. This encourages a boost to the metabolic rate as well as causes a reduction in calorie intake.
In fact, a recent study concluded that higher protein diets in the 25-30% of total calorie range reduced appetite while raising the metabolism of participants. Another study had obese men consume protein at 25% of their total calorie intake. Participants reported increased feelings of satiety, a smaller craving for late-night snacking and reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%.
Muscle Retention: When trying to lose weight, but trying to maintain current muscle mass, higher protein diets are important. A study done on athletes who were trying to reduce body mass found that higher protein intake was more effective in retaining muscle mass compared to a lower protein diet.
Muscle Building: To gain muscle, the body needs to process more muscle protein than it breaks down. Beyond this fact, details for exactly how much protein is best for building muscle are hotly debated. While a large amount of research has been performed, most studies point out that 0.7 – 1 grams per pound of lean mass is enough.
As you can see, how much protein your body needs is heavily dependent on what your goals are. Decide first upon what you want to accomplish, then begin to calculate just how much protein will help get you there!
Photograph of “Ribeyes” by Jon Sullivan. Original uploader was Hephaestos at en.wikipedia