Last Updated on January 28, 2024
This will be your guide to optimal protein intake. But what exactly is protein? And why do we need it? Are you getting enough protein per day? What does it do to our bodies? And what are protein sources that are available to us?
These might be the questions we tackle as we go into an in-depth analysis of what protein is.
In this article, we will see the amount of protein per kilogram of the body needed, how many calories from the protein we get, how much fat it contains, and what it does if you want to build your muscle mass.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder, an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or just want to eat healthier
This guide delves into all you need to know about your protein needs. Let’s begin our journey towards a stronger, more energized, and revitalized you today.
What Is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient and its building blocks are known as amino acids. There are different kinds of amino acids and the human body only uses 22 of them.
We can produce 13 of those but we need to get 9 from external sources. These 9 are called essential amino acids.
WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF PROTEIN
Essentially all food contains some kind of combination of these amino acids but namely meat (fish, chicken, pork, etc.), eggs, and dairy have them all.
But there are also plant sources that provide us with them.
You can also get grams of protein from protein powder. But A well-balanced diet with a variety of food will give us our daily protein needs.
What Does Protein Do
It actually does a lot more than we think!
Protein is essential to all of us and the amount you need depends on a lot of factors like body weight, age, and how active you are. But on a basic note eating protein does wonders for our bodies.
It is the building block of our bodies and it builds and maintains healthy living tissue.
During different periods of growth, we need more protein. These periods are:
- Puberty to adolescence
When Do You Need More Protein
You should also get more protein if you are:
- are active in sports or exercise
- or is recovering from surgery
As you may have already figured out protein repairs muscles, and helps the body recover from injuries.
It also helps us prevent blood clots, helps with fluid balance, improves the immune system, balances our hormones, and much more.
Daily Protein Intake: How Much Protein Do I Need
Most adults on average need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
For the average woman, this is 45 grams, and for the average man, this is 55 grams per day.
But if you are an athlete, a bodybuilder, or just want to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and be active, you must have an increased protein intake daily.
You can check with a dietitian or check dietary guidelines as to how much protein you need.
(Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans)
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Protein
There are only a few nutrients that pack a punch like protein does and protein deficiency is a real problem.
Around a billion people suffer from protein deficiency. And this happens when you have an imbalanced diet.
Too little protein can cause changes that develop over a long period of time and can affect almost all aspects of body function. Let’s look at the effects.
- Edema – This causes puffy swollen skin and is caused by protein deficiency.
- Fatty liver – It doesn’t only occur in obese or alcoholics. fat covers the liver when you lack protein but researchers don’t know why that happens yet.
- Hair, nail, and skin problems – These body parts are all made from protein and the lack of it will result in hair loss, brittle nails, and split skin.
- Muscle mass loss – This happens when the muscles take protein from our bones due to a lack of protein. This may seem that you have lost fat in your body but the difference is you will feel weak when your muscles waste away.
- Increase in bone injuries – Bones suffer when you don’t get your daily dose of protein. You have weaker bones which increase the risk of fractures.
- Increased severity of infections – Protein helps the immune system and your immune system fights infections. A weakened state causes infections to get critically severe.
As you can see if you don’t meet the daily grams of protein per day needed you will have problems with varying severities.
It is best to have a balanced diet that consists of a variety of foods (e.g. 24 High-Protein Breakfast Ideas).
Remember that there are multiple sources of protein and all of them have different nutrient content as well.
What Happens When You Exceed Your Protein Needs
Now that we’ve seen what happens when we eat less and less protein, what happens when you eat more protein than what is needed? Let’s find out as well.
- You gain weight – The body can’t store protein that it doesn’t need. So extra protein is either used immediately as energy or stored as fat.
- Constipation – When you lack fiber in your body the protein in it is hard to process. This will lead to dehydration and constipation. It will make digesting food a taxing job for your body.
- You feel weak – Most diets have an increase in dietary protein intake and lessen carbohydrates. carbs are also our source of energy and a lack of it will make you feel tired and nauseated.
- Kidney disease – This is caused by too much protein in the body and is more common when you already have a kidney problem to start with. Excess protein can cause kidney hyperfiltration and many more problems.
(Source: Mayo Clinic)
Having too much protein is a problem also. and even though this is more common in athletes and bodybuilders, it is best to stick to a balanced diet as mentioned.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is needed, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.
0.2 grams or 200 mg of protein is best left to professional bodybuilders and athletes as their activities demand an increased protein intake.
You only do this when you are involved in sports are bodybuilding. This will help you gain muscle mass, recover from injuries, and provide you with the energy that you need for the hard activities that you will be facing.
Eating too much protein is as bad as the lack of it. They both result in different problems but having excess protein will lead to kidney problems, weight gain, dehydration, constipation, and more.
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