The protein hype

There was a time when people checked their food labels merely to see how much fat and sugar was in the food they were eating and what that meant in terms of calorie content. I think it is safe to say those days are behind us now. 

Up there with the most checked nutrient would definitely be protein. And while its properties relating to repair and maintenance have been acknowledged for decades, it is only relatively recently that we have seen people wanting to consume it in such large quantities for other reasons. 

You see, despite the tendency to load our diets full of protein, it is one of the easiest nutrients to eat in recommended quantities every single day. Just two servings of protein rich foods are thought to be enough. 

But hitting minimum recommended levels is not enough for so many of us. I’m talking eggs for breakfast, chicken for an evening meal and plenty of protein supplements crammed in the middle somewhere. I’m sure some of you will be reading this and thinking, “that’s me!”. 

I guess what I am trying to get at is whether or not we can have too much. We know that protein is essential if you want to build muscle. So logic would suggest that the moremuscle you want to build, the more protein you will need to consume. 

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that of course there is an upper limit. For one the body can only use so much of the protein that you supply it with, so going above that level is just making your body work harder. How come? Well protein, as far as nutrients go, is relatively difficult to digest. So eating too much is going to be putting unnecessary stress on organs such as your kidneys. 

To be safe the general guideline is that you don’t go above 2.5g of protein for every kilo that you weigh. And I know a lot of you will think that is quite low but we don’t get to set the guidelines – we’re personal trainers, not biologists. 

Protein shouldn’t just be targeted by bodybuilders though – that commits a great disservice to this robust and diverse nutrient. Protein rich diets have been associated with sustainable weight loss for a long time now. 

It is as simple as this – if you are trying to lose weight and that means that you are making yourself go hungry then you are far more likely to give in. Mind over body will only work for a certain amount of time, depending on how much will power you have. 

It is far easier to try and trick the mind into thinking that you aren’t hungry at all and that is where protein comes in. Remember how I said it was slightly more challenging to digest protein? Well that means that it takes longer to do. And the longer it takes you to digest the food that you eat, the fuller you will feel for longer! 

Accessing the correct quantities of each and every nutrient requires detailed planning. And your best bet is to keep on top of it. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, what you eat should be tailored towards your goals. So don’t just load protein because it is what everyone else is doing – make sure that everything that goes into your body is necessary! 

Ollie Lawrence
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