WHAT ARE PROTEINS? Proteins are compounds that are completely essential to life. Without them we simply do not exist. Proteins come in many forms, but are the product of perfectly arranged amino acid structures designed to do a particular job. What is truly amazing is our body’s ability to ingest a protein source that is ENTIRELY different in structure from anything that exists in our body, break it down to its most basic components, and then reorganize it in order to repair tissue to grow and direct the vital processes that keep us alive!

HOW MUCH PROTEIN should I be consuming? Ingestion of protein is a key component in developing your desired physique and maintaining your health.  Unfortunately when it comes to the amount and sourcing of ingested protein, the subject is widely misunderstood. There is no generic answer to the question of what kind of protein and how much. The answers depend entirely on the individual and their desired effect. For the sedentary individual, essential protein quantity is relatively low. Sedentary WOMEN need about 35-40g of protein per day, and MALES need approximately 45-60g per day. This increases with physical activity. For the more active individual who regularly needs to repair tissue, the quantity of protein will increase, and for the individual striving to achieve a very muscular physique the amount will increase even more. However, there is an upper limit to what the body is able to effectively utilize and many athletes overdo it when concerning their protein consumption. For individuals wanting to increase muscle mass, or for those who have greater levels of muscle breakdown due to very vigorous exercises or resistance training, according to the majority of studies the daily upper limit is around 1.2-1.7g/kg. 

DOES IT MATTER how much I have per meal? One study showed that calculating protein per meal is actually more effective than stressing over your daily totals. Meal timing can be forgiving but meal spacing is far less accommodating when it comes to achieving our optimal physiological state. Most data sets demonstrate that optimal concentrations range from .25-.40 grams of protein per KG of bodyweight per meal, with meal spaced every 3-4 hours. Now another factor to consider is that for even very large and muscular individuals the curve for muscle protein synthesis begins to level off after 30g. That’s not to say than one should never consume 40g or 50g in a meal (as consuming the daily amount in even non optimal proportions still has its benefits) its just that individuals requiring higher daily totals may want to consider breaking them up into more than 4 protein meals per day. Larger people do not need higher concentrations of protein per meal either, for example a 150 lb male and 200 lb male have nearly the same capacity to synthesize protein from a single meal. While the larger individual may need a higher daily total, if both activity levels are relatively similar–so will be their ability to synthesize protein. 

ANIMAL VS PLANT BASED PROTEINS? Protein sourcing matters, but is a there a superior source? That would again depend on the desired effect. The takeaway here is to consume complete proteins that contain the essential amino acids that our body cannot synthesize on its own, and this is more easily sourced from animal proteins. Vegetable proteins have benefits as well (they contain a photochemical that can help regulate insulin, cholesterol, blood pressure and they can even have less carcinogenic properties than animal proteins) HOWEVER in multiple studies animal proteins have been shown to have a greater anabolic effect than vegetable proteins and are more effective in their ability to satisfy the appetite. SATIATION, in my opinion, is possibly the most important supporting factor for consistency and adherence to a healthy diet. Like I always say, a meal plan is no good if you cant, wont, or don’t do it. 

SHOULD I EAT MORE PROTEIN if I’m cutting/fasting? There is evidence to suggest that muscle breakdown can occur in the fasted state more quickly than non-fasted, so increasing protein intake while cutting would be beneficial. Also, in nearly every study on consumption of protein prior to sleep there was shown an increase in muscle protein synthesis and elevations in basal metabolic rate. In other words consuming protein prior to bed will in nearly every scenario only help improve the acquisition of a lean physique HOWEVER, interestingly enough, an insulin response is needed to effectively reduce the rate of breakdown. This brings me to my next topic…

CARBOHYDRATES. Carbs consumed with protein can slow down protein digestion, but they do not slow down muscle protein synthesis. So consuming a small quantity of carbs with your protein can actually stimulate the insulin response to a beneficial level for optimal protein synthesis. BUT the upper limit is projected to be around 30g of carbs MAX in a single meal in order to maximize this benefit. Consuming larger amounts of carbs does not continue or enhance this positive effect. To hear all about carbohydrates, tune in NEXT MONDAY.

COMMENT below any and all questions related to carbohydrates to be featured in my next BLOG.  

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