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Simplifying Protein

Here at Rushcutters Health, we often get asked about protein. Things like ‘how much should I be taking?’ ‘should I take protein powder?’….and so on. So this week we thought we’d clarify a lot of these questions you have and put you in a better position when thinking about protein and your diet.

So….first things first:

How much protein do you need?

The ideal daily protein requirement is worked out at 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. This is the philosophy we follow at Rushcutters Health to allow the body to obtain the optimal amount of lean muscle mass.

An example calculation for this if you were 60kg would be:

1.5 (grams) x 60 (kg) = 90

2.0  (grams) x 60 (kg) = 120

So this person should be eating around 90-120g of protein per day.

*JUST TO NOTE – it may sound obvious to some but often people get confused about this. 100g of salmon doesn’t equal 100g of protein. 100g of salmon is approximately 40g protein.

At Rushcutters we use the My Fitness Pal app to record our daily food intake. This app will give you a protein breakdown of the foods you enter. It is also a great reference point if you are not sure.

Protein as Essential Amino Acids

Proteins are one of three primary macronutrients that provide energy to the human body, along with fats and carbohydrates. They are comprised of a number of amino acids that are essential to proper body function, and serve as building blocks of body tissue.

There are 20 different amino acids in total. While some of these can be synthesized in the body, there are 9 amino acids that humans can only obtain from dietary sources (insufficient amounts of which can result in death), termed essential amino acids.

Foods that provide all of the essential amino acids are called complete protein sources, and include both animal (meat, dairy, eggs, fish) as well as plant-based sources (soy, quinoa, buckwheat). Many common foods are not complete proteins. However, there are a number of these incomplete proteins that when consumed together constitute complete proteins, including bread and peanut butter, hummus and pita, and rice and beans. Different foods are rich in different amino acids, and consuming a variety of foods can provide a person with their necessary daily nutrients.

Which protein sources are the best?

We encourage our clients to focus on whole foods for the majority of their diet. Animal sources like fish, chicken, beef, pork, and eggs offer the highest-quality protein for building muscle. That is, they’re complete proteins, containing all the essential amino acids.

A serving size of 140g of meat or fish will typically get you in the neighbourhood of 30 grams of protein. 225g will get you to 40 grams. For convenience, you can get 40 grams from two scoops of most protein supplements.

You’d need seven eggs or five cups of milk to reach 40 grams. So while they’re both awesome sources of high-quality protein, they aren’t the most practical stand-alone options.

What about protein timing?

There is an old school of thought that protein had to be eaten a short time after a weights session. Whilst there is an anabolic window it’s not nearly as narrow as we used to think.

Once you account for total protein across the entire day, the specific timing of each dose isn’t especially important. Simply put, get some protein one or two hours before training, and then an hour or two afterwards. Your body can take it from there.

What about vegan protein?

Many plant-based proteins are low in either leucine or essential amino acids. So your vegan clients have two options:

1. Use complete protein sources

These include:

  • Soy*
  • Buckwheat
  • Hemp
  • Chia
  • Quorn
  • Most sprouted grain***
  • Rice****
  • Pea

* It’s not recommended that you make this your primary source of protein.

** there have been reports of adverse reactions among those sensitive to molds

*** These are whole-grain seeds that have started to grow; they typically have less starch and better nutrient availability, and are easier to digest.

**** It’s only effective in higher amounts, or when you mix it with pea protein. It’s the supplemental version of the classic rice-and-beans combination.

2. Use more protein

In a study in which subjects were given 48 grams of either rice or whey protein after training, there was no difference in muscle growth over eight weeks (21).

Simplifying Protein

  • ½ chicken breast
  • 2 chicken thighs
  • 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 cup of soybeans
  • 1 cup of rice + 1 cup of black beans
  • 5 to 6 ounces of meat or fish (a serving that’s about the size and thickness of your client’s hand and fingers, or two checkbooks)
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 glasses of milk
  • 1 ½ scoops of a typical protein supplement

We hope this has given you a better insight into protein and a practical approach for how to incorporate it into your diet effectively.

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