Why do we need protein?
Protein is one of the building blocks of our bodies. It helps with muscle repair, growth and regeneration, this makes it particularly important after exercise. Protein is a macronutrient which, alongside carbohydrates and fats, is a primary source of energy.
It’s often associated with body building and gym goers. It’s commonly used in sports nutrition, but making sure you have good levels of protein in your diet is important for everyone. Having a deficiency can lead to symptoms such as weakness, lower metabolism and muscle wastage. As we get older our muscle mass decreases, which means that protein has an important part to play in prevention of muscle wastage as we age.
How much protein do you need post exercise?
Once we’ve experienced the wear and tear of exercise our muscles need to repair. Having a protein snack or drink post after exercise (ideally during the hour after) can help your muscles recover.
Should you take protein powder and what about vegan protein?
Most people can get enough protein in their diets through food. But if you’re spending a lot of time in the gym, looking to bulk up or are deficient you may want to increase your intake of protein through supplementation. There are plenty of protein powders and snacks available. Are you a vegan? Then not to worry there are plenty of options when it comes to suitable protein powders.
How much protein should you really be eating per day?
As a general rule of thumb males between 19 and 50 need 55g and women in the same age bracket need 45g (1). But this number will vary with age.
Healthspan’s Head of Nutrition Rob Hobson says:
"Protein - rich foods are essential for the body’s growth and repair, protein – rich foods (meat, fish, egg and pulses) are also a useful way to control appetite for weight maintenance, so try to include a source of protein in very meal. Try to avoid relying on animal proteins, instead exploring other protein – rich foods such as eggs, pulses, nuts and soya products. (2)"
Foods high in protein
Egg & dairy
- 1 Large Egg - 6g Protein
- 100ml Full Cream Milk – 3.5g Protein (64 Kcal)
- 100ml Semi Skimmed Milk - 3.5g Protein (47 Kcal)
- 100ml Skimmed Milk - 3.5g Protein (35 Kcal)1 Egg – 6g Protein
- 100g Plain Natural Yoghurt – 5.4g Protein
- 100g Plain Greek Yoghurt – 10.6g Protein
- 100g Feta Cheese – 14g Protein
- 100g Chicken Breast – 31g Protein
- 100g Steak – 33g Protein
- 100g Turkey Breast – 35g Protein
- 100g Salmon Fillet – 35g Protein
- 100g Cod Fillet – 23g Protein
Nuts & seeds
- Flax seeds 1oz - 6g protein
- Chia seeds 1oz – 5g protein
- Pumpkin Seeds – 10.6g Protein
- Walnuts 1oz – 4g protein
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2. L Simpson & R Hobson, The Detox Kitchen Bible, Bloomsbury