Why should i care about protein?

Protein is the building material that the body uses to build several types of tissue, including muscle. Protein ingestion is therefore essential for muscle growth and maintaining muscle mass.

Protein could be described as long chains of amino acids linked together in a head to tail manner. When protein is consumed it is broken down by enzymes in the digestive tract and individual amino are absorbed from the small intestine to the blood stream. Amino acids are then transported to various tissues where they are used as building blocks to synthesize the body’s own proteins, for example muscle proteins.

The proteins in the body are made up from 20 amino acids, 9 of them are essential, meaning that they have to be provided in the diet. The branched chain amino acids (BCAA) leucin, isoleucine, valine are a group of amino acids with special properties. They serve as a stimulus that turns on the protein synthetic machinery.

How much protein do you need? 

How much protein you need depends, among other things, on body size and degree of physical activity. The amount of protein recommended for healthy adults is 0.75 g/kg/day.

People who exercise need higher amounts of protein for optimum recovery and training adaptation. The daily recommendations regarding protein intake for athletes is 1.6- 1.8 g/kg/day. Some nutrition experts argue that amounts as high as 2.0 grams/kg/day may be needed.

Do you have to take protein supplements?  

People who exercise have a higher protein requirement than those who are sedentary.

Even so, getting enough protein is rarely a problem for athletes. Because they also eat more food, they automatically get more protein. “The more calories you consume, the more protein you get” you could say. For this reason, most people who exercise do not usually need supplements to get enough protein.

However, there are some groups of individuals who are at risk for low protein intake. These are usually people with a very low energy intake, e.g., female gymnasts, dancers or individuals trying to lose weight. Another group that may need more protein are older individuals.

Research has shown that the anabolic response after protein intake decreases with increasing age. This phenomenon has been called “anabolic resistance”.

What are the pros of using a protein supplement? 

The main reason for taking protein supplements is convenience. Bringing “real food” in your training bag is not always practical. Food can be temperature sensitive, time consuming and complicated to prepare. A supplement, on the other hand is easy to bring with you in a training
bag, and you can consume it “on the go”. A perfect solution if you consider the hectic lifestyle most of us live in. Supplements can also be beneficial for older individuals. The elderly have a higher protein requirement as mentioned earlier, at the same time have difficulty eating enough due to reduced appetite (another consequence of aging). Protein-rich foods are also the most filling, which is why it can be extra difficult for the elderly to get enough protein from food.