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What's The Deal with Protein?

Here's some quick points on a fitness industry obsession: protein.

Protein is one of the three main macronutrients alongside carbs and fats. Each of these play a role in a well-nourished body.

Protein is the building blocks of your muscles. Adequate consumption helps you recover properly from your almost daily fitness routine.

And if and when one is looking to lose fat, there are three big benefits: 1) Because you’re getting sufficient dietary protein, you’re more likely to burn a higher percentage of fat instead of burning muscle for fuel. 2) Protein is more filling. This means you won’t be as hungry. 3) Protein takes more “work” for your body to digest it. So the “net” absorbed calories are lower.

The most common protein food sources are meat, fish, and dairy. Not a meat-eater? You can get protein from foods like tofu, lentils, beans, and legumes.

Depending on your goals, you may go with higher or lower fat sources. We don’t need to be afraid of fat, but if you’re prioritizing fat loss, you may want to prioritize lower calorie versions. Alternatively, if you want to gain muscle, you may need the extra calories from full-fat choices. When it comes to meat, fish, dairy, and vegetables in particular, it’s a good idea to consume high-quality organic sources whenever logistically and financially possible. Now you may be asking “How much protein should I get?” The Federal Drug Agency in America recommends a minimum of 0.8 gram per kilogram a day to avoid malnourishment. However, while there’s debate on the ideal amount, most nutrition experts recommend getting more for optimal functioning. This is particularly true as we age and want to maintain muscle mass.

The sports nutrition standard is 2.2 gram per kilogram per day. This is definitely on the higher side, but it’s a good general target when one has any fat-loss, muscle-building, or performance goals. If you don’t particularly care about those goals, it’s probably less important. And of course, as always, we have to factor in your personal preferences. If that’s more than you can consume without overhauling your diet, you may decide to shoot for a (relatively) lower amount. Protein powders can also play a role if you’re not getting enough protein from the whole foods in your diet. But the preference is to always try to source it from foods first. For protein and nutritional recommendations, check out nifty protein calculator by clicking HERE.

There is lots of context and nuance left out of this. Nonetheless, I hope this overview gives you some clarity on the role protein plays in fitness greatness!


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