A protein perspective

Long has it been hailed as the macronutrient reserved only for the bodybuilder. Tuna and rice washed down with a protein shake! But that way of thinking is slowly but surely changing. Nevertheless, protein intake remains a contentious issue, and is it any wonder with all the conflicting “expert” advice out there?

Despite the countless Facebook memes poking fun at the crossfit, gym or paleo fraternity, one thing we must be grateful for is the fact that these movements have heralded in an unprecedented amount of interest in the health industry and most of the time, they shine a positive light on living a life of movement and healthy nutrition.

This healthy way of life has a new face. Fit is the new thin, strong is the new slim. The bodies are buff and the bars are loaded with weights not drinks. But how exactly are all these people getting this way? Drugs? Yes, it’s out there in a small minority, but drugs alone won’t do it. Exercise? Absolutely. We need to give the body a reason to change. The last component is nutrition…predominantly protein.

We’re going to keep this super basic, as the biological and chemical processes behind what I am about to explain would cure any case of insomnia. So, let’s start by following the flow of things:

  • To move from the couch to the fridge we need muscles to produce the force for movement
  • At a microscopic level, these muscles are constantly being broken down and built back up, every waking minute of the day
  • As we age the breaking down of muscle increases and our ability to rebuild decreases
  • Therefore, to stay young, fit and healthy our requirements for building and maintaining muscle mass increases
  • The muscle we have on our body is made up of…you guessed it…protein

Ok, so now I need to go a bit technical…

So, does this just mean we can just eat tonnes of protein and it’ll be stored as muscle? Negative. First, we need to create a stimulus in our body to trigger the breakdown of muscle protein. We do this by providing a strong resistance to the muscle i.e. we ‘do weights’. Our body recognises the micro-trauma in the muscle and immediately goes about repairing the muscle and building upon its original structure, so that if a similar resistance was to occur in the future, the new muscle would be able to handle the stress without the trauma and related soreness recurring.

When the muscle protein has been broken down, it needs readily available protein to start the repair process. This is where our dietary intake of protein comes in handy. Eating adequate amounts of protein throughout the day keeps the reserve tanks topped up so that the repair process can take place. If we are lacking protein, then the rebuilding phase will slow considerably.

Obviously, this begs the question, how much protein should we be having? Well, here lies another grey area. I could name multiple “expert” sources that profess how much you should consume. However, provided you don’t have any pre-existing conditions, it is safe to say that even for an extremely sedentary person, at bare minimum, you should have 1g of protein per kg of bodyweight to maintain proper, basic bodily functions. If we scale up our activity levels and fitness goals to one of an athlete or regular exerciser looking to improve their body composition, then this number should be closer to 2-2.5g. These amounts should be spread out across the day in anywhere from 3-6 meals. I know it sounds like a lot, but there are many research articles that conclude a higher protein diet is the way to go.

So, there’s some little guidelines to follow. Feel safe in the knowledge that if we under or overshoot our protein intake our body has a fantastic way of balancing things out without going into self-destruct mode. As always, do your own research, experiment with a few ways and amounts of protein and do what gives you the results that you are looking for in your health!

Name: Chris Zerbe

Profession: Health & Success Coach

Company: 313FIT

Website: www.313fit.com.au

Facebook: 313 FIT

Instagram: 313fit

My name is Chris Zerbe and I am the founder of 313FIT & 313 Optimal Living. We provide Health & Success Coaching to individuals and businesses in the local Ashgrove area. Previous to my coaching career I spent 8 years the corporate environment before moving into my passion to inspire others to lead happier, healthier and more successful lives. It is my absolute pleasure to be able to contribute to The Produce community and I hope I can help guide you to a better you.