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Protein….Which whey to go…..

Proteins, which whey to go…….Sorry I thought that was clever….Ok maybe not.

As we all know, to be fit, strong, lean and muscular we must consume enough protein. Supplement companies have literally been smashing this point down our throats since the days of Reg Park in the 1940’s after winning some bodybuilding titles and donning a loin cloth as Hercules.

The question is how much protein, when to have it and does it matter which type? The abridged answer to that is…. enough, regularly and yes. I will however, expand on this answer.

How much protein

This is relatively straight forward. For sedentary non-exercising types its around 0.75g per kg body mass to be healthy.  This is due to the fact that the body can synthesize most of the proteins it needs from other sources, and, on the assumption you’re having a varied balanced diet with enough calories. Scientific studies have suggested that 1.4-1.7 g per kg body mass is sufficient for strength training athletes. More recently, I read a study saying there was no benefit to ingesting more than 1.8 g per kg body mass, and this was done using bodybuilders. Bodybuilders  having some of the highest protein turnovers due to the constant muscle tissue breakdown. Therefore, we don’t need more. However the reason that some people suggest more is due to the satiating properties of protein. High protein low carb diets do work for a short period of time for fat loss, but it is not something I’d recommend long term.

Protein timings

Some will advise it is most important in the mornings due to your body being in an anabolic state, with high levels growth hormone and testosterone. Some say it’s most important pre or post workouts. Some say that you must have it before bed as you’re doing all your repair and growth when you’re asleep. The short answer is that your body needs a constant supply of proteins throughout the day. This is because, unlike fats and carbs, we only have the capacity to store a very small amount of proteins in our amino acid pool. As I mentioned before, we can manufacture most of our proteins from other sources, but if your body is constantly being broken down by exercise, and we don’t consume enough protein, your body will be in negative balance and will break muscle tissue to release the proteins. The take home message is, try to consume protein steadily throughout the day, especially pre, during and post workout, as this is the most catabolic time for your body.

Types of protein

Most people think of meats when you think of protein. However, almost all natural food stuffs will contain protein to some degree. The difference is; how much, the quality and the availability. Vegetable sources do have protein but it is usually in small quantities, incomplete and has low availability.

Most people understand that something has more protein than something else I.e chicken has more protein gram for gram than broccoli, but what does incomplete and low availability mean. A protein is made from amino acids. There are 21 different amino acids. For a protein to be considered complete it would have all 21 aminos. Many vegetable sources don’t have all 21, whereas animal sources do, making them a better more complete protein.

Then we have availability. Simply put, it means how quickly the protein can be absorbed and turned into a usable human protein. The protein found in egg white can be assimilated very quickly, whereas, the protein in spinach is far slower. So why does that matter? It matters when it comes to protein timings. Throughout the day, having a constant supply of protein is a good thing as it keeps a steady flow of aminos in our blood circulating. If you had a sudden protein requirement i.e during or after a workout, you would want a faster acting protein that is more readily absorbed, like whey or branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Some people like to have protein before bed, so a very slow digesting protein,like casein, is more beneficial at this stage to facilitate a drip feed of protein through the night.

Here is an example distribution of protein for an 80kg person who lifts weights.

It is around 130g pure protein which is 1.7g per kg body mass. .

6:30 am 2 whole eggs9:30 am 1/2 tin tuna12:30 pm 80g chicken breast4:00 pm 80g beef6:30 pm 30g whey post workout8:00 pm 120g salmon10:00 pm 20g casein (milk protein)

With the addition of vegetables and carbs it could increase to around 170g of protein, which, in my opinion, is more than enough for the average person who trains regularly.

I hope this was useful. With a last note on brands of supplements. There are a million protein companies saying theirs is the best for whatever reason. Find one you like the taste, cost and causes you no digestive issues, this is right for you. They are all basically the same so don’t get caught up in the myriad of choice.

Thanks for reading and keep on liftin’ Ali ‘Fat Al’ Stewart.

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