Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Protein – how much you should be having and what are the best sources

Watching ‘nutrition experts’ in the gym drinking pints of protein shakes, and recommending them to others to ‘bulk up, I really don’t see the point. The daily requirement of protein for high strength athletes is 1.2g-1.7g of protein per kilo body weight, and for endurance athletes is 1.2g-1.4g of protein per kilo body weight. These limits are put there to prevent kidney damage. With an increased protein intake, the kidneys have to work harder to clean the blood; this can lead to hyper filtration which is linked to kidney disease.

So why then, when these limits are recommended for world athletes, do I see men and women in the gym and out spending a fortune on these pointless protein shakes and protein bars? Honestly, because it’s what is in trend at the moment, it is a con. In average western diets, we reach our recommended intake anyway. It is a myth that vast amounts of protein will build muscle quicker. For good sports performance and recovery you need carbohydrates, the muscles primary source of fuel. Yes, you need protein for muscle growth and repair, but there is no direct correlation between eating vast amounts of protein and increased muscle growth. In addition to that, check what it is in those protein powders and pills. As I once pointed out to a friend, he was taking protein pills with testosterone in, which when not used in the body is converted into oestrogen. Excess oestrogen in men? Man boobs.

Here is a great guide taken from the British Dietetic Association website for carbohydrate intake, based on activity levels, a great reference:

Activity or timing
Recommended daily intake of carbohydrate per Kg body weight
3-5 hours per week
4 - 5g
5-7 hours per week
5 - 6g
1-2 hours per day
6 - 8g
2 hours + per day
8 - 10g

*Although general requirements can be provided, carbohydrate intakes should be fine-tuned with individual consideration of total energy needs, specific training needs and feedback from training performance. http://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/sportsfoodfacts.pdf
So to save some money for all those people who are putting in the hours of effort down the gym, or wherever you work out, here is a list of excellent dietary protein intake. Bear in mind, for best performance to mix these up with a wide variety of mixed fruits and vegetables and always ensure adequate fluid intake prior to, during and after training.

Protein Source
Total protein per serving
Beef – Steak  6oz
Beef – most cuts
7g of protein per ounce
Chicken – breast
Chicken – thigh
Chicken – drumstick
Chicken – wing
Fish – fillet
Fish – tin of tuna
Pork – chop
Pork – loin
Ham serving
Bacon rasher
Eggs – large
Cottage cheese ½ cup
Soft cheese (brie, philly, etc.)
6g per ounce
Medium cheese (cheddar)
7-8g per ounce
Hard cheese (Parmesan)
10g per ounce
Tofu ½ cup
Soya Milk 1 cup
Most beans (lentils, pinto, etc.)
7-10g per half cup
Almonds ¼ cup
Peanuts ¼ cup
Cashews ¼ cup
Pecans ¼ cup
Sunflower seeds ¼ cup
Pumpkin seeds ¼ cup

So work out your rough requirements and see what you’re currently meeting through diet alone, you might be surprised!

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