As a nation we’re becoming more interested in increasing the amount of protein in our diets to help meet our goals, but how much do you really know about protein? We met up with Isagenix UK’s very own Product Education and Nutrition Communications Manager, Rebecca Haresign, to look at what protein is, how much we need, and how protein can help us reach our goal.
What is protein and what does it do?
Protein is found in every cell of the body, and is essential for the constant growth and repair of tissues. Proteins are made up of long chains of amino acids, and it is this sequence of amino acids that determines the biochemical function of each protein (1). Protein also provides us with energy – each gram of protein provides four calories (2).
How much protein do I need each day?
The amount of protein you need each day will depend on your physical characteristics and level of activity. In the UK, the current recommended intake of protein is 0.75 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (3). For example, a 60-kilogram person would be recommended to consume 45 grams of protein each day. This amount is the minimum amount a person should consume to avoid deficiency (4). However, as you become more active and particularly if you’re including resistance training in your programme, your protein requirements will increase in order to support your body’s need to build and repair muscle tissues (4, 5).
Aren’t protein and protein supplements only for bodybuilders and athletes?
Not at all! Protein has a role to play in our everyday diets regardless of our goal and should be included at every meal. Whilst consuming protein after a workout has been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, protein also has a role to play in weight loss and weight maintenance (5). Consuming foods high in protein can help us to feel full, which can also help to control how much we eat between meals and at the next meal. Protein-rich meals also have a greater thermic effect, which means that more energy is required to digest, absorb and metabolise meals rich in protein compared to carbohydrate or fat (6). Consuming protein with meals helps you to feel full longer and can help you to burn a few more calories, too.
When is the best time to consume protein?
Protein should be consumed throughout the day, however it’s especially important to make sure you’re re-fuelling after a workout. Research suggests you should aim to consume around 20g protein within two hours after exercise to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and help you get the most benefit from your workout (5, 7).
For many people it may not be feasible to consume foods high in protein within this timeframe as they’re on the go, and that’s where IsaPro® and IsaLean™ Bars are the perfect solution to have ready to go in your gym bag.
How do I go about adding more protein to my diet?
Protein should be provided in every meal. IsaLean Shakes provide you with 24g protein, however if you have increased requirements, you could add a scoop of IsaPro to your shake for an extra 18g of protein. Aim to include a portion of lean protein in your evening meal, e.g. haddock, salmon, kidney beans, poultry, beef, eggs or lentils.
For protein-rich snacks, try mixing IsaPro with water or having an IsaLean bar – both are great as a post workout snack or to keep you going between meals. Other protein-rich snacks include a handful of unsalted nuts and seeds or low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with your favourite fruit.
There’s a growing interest in boosting protein to help meet nutritional goals, and with good reason. Getting the right amount of protein at meal time and after exercise can help you feel full longer, help you burn more calories, and help you to get the most benefit from your workouts.
- British Nutrition Foundation. Protein. 2012. Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/protein.html (accessed 30th August 2017)
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Dietary Reference Values for Energy. London: TSO, 2011
- British Nutrition Foundation. Nutrition Requirements. 2016. Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/234/Nutrition%20Requirements_Revised%20Oct%202016.pdf (accessed 30th August 2017)
- Phillips S. Dietary protein requirements and adaptive advantages in athletes. Brit J Nutr 2012;108:S158-S167
- Egan B. Protein intake for athletes and active adults: Current concepts and controversies. Nutr Bull2016;41:202-213.
- Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Smeets A, Nieuwenhuizen A. Sustained protein intake for bodyweight management. Nutr Bull 2007;32 (suppl 1):22-31
- Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, Tang JE, Glover EI, Wilkinson SB, Prior T, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:161-8