The Power of Protein

Protein is an important component of every cell in our body.  Our nails and hair are mostly made of protein.  Our body uses protein to build and repair tissues.  We also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.  Protein is also an important building block in our body for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.  We regenerate our skin about every 27 days whereas bones regenerate about every 10 years.  We build tons of new cells every day!!

Interestingly, along with carbohydrates and fat, protein is a macronutrient, meaning that our body needs relatively large amounts of it.  Minerals and vitamins, which are needed in only small quantities, are called micronutrients.  The interesting fact is that unlike carbohydrates and fat, our body does not store protein and therefore when it needs a new supply we must eat more protein.

There are many science backed reasons to ensure we eat an appropriate amount of proteins.

  • Protein reduce appetite and hunger levels by reducing your level of hunger hormone and increasing your level of hormones that make you feel full.
  • Muscle is made primarily of protein therefore keeping your protein intake at the appropriate level can help build lean muscle if you are physically active and prevent muscle loss during weight loss.
  • People who eat more protein tend to have better bone health and a much lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures as they get older.
  • Some studies show that increasing protein intake can reduce cravings and desires for late-night snacks.
  • Your body uses calories to digest and use the nutrients in your foods but protein has a much higher calorie burning effect than fat or carbs. Consequently, a higher protein intake has been shown to increase the number of calories burned.  This also helps maintain weight loss and keep it off in the long term.
  • Because protein is the main building block for tissues and organs, it can help your body repair itself and recover faster after injuries, illness, or surgeries.
  • One of the impact of aging is the tendency to loss muscle mass gradually which can reduce quality of life. Eating plenty of protein and staying physically active is crucial and can help reduce the loss of muscle mass.  Furthermore, some sort of resistance exercise can even work wonders in regaining muscle mass.

This all made me think about how much protein should I eat and am I eating enough?  There’s a lot of buzz about balanced macros, typically 40% carbs / 30% protein / 30% fat, but what does that mean?  How do I translate 30% protein to grams?

As I did some research it appears that most of the nutrition organizations are recommending a fairly modest daily protein intake in the amount of 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kilo).  This equates to 56 grams per day for the average man and 46 grams per day for the average woman.

It seems odd to me that we could recommend daily protein intake so broadly without considering activity level, age, physical goal, and muscle mass so I did more research and I feel that the best way is to base protein intake on lean body mass and activity level.  Lean body mass is considered an important measure for metabolism since muscle burns more calories for energy than fat.

Lean body mass is simply the amount of body weight that is not fat.  (Body weight – body fat = lean body mass).  Okay!  So, how do I figure out my body fat?  More research surfaced the top four methods to determine body fat percent which allows the determination of body fat weight.

  • Use a scale that provides the body fat percent. These scales use what is called bioelectric impedance to estimate body fat.  The technology uses high frequency waves sent through tissue to determine total body water which is used to derive body fat percent.
  • Use a tool called a skinfold caliper which looks like a plastic pincer or scissors. These are used to simply pinch an area or skin such as under the upper arm or back.  The thicker the pinched skin to more fat there is.  The device can be prone to user error and there should be done by a professional.
  • A far more accurate reading can be done in medical center using a radiological technology unit known as DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scanner. Clearly a more costly method which include radiation exposure and complications of scheduling the procedure, etc.
  • Similarly, there is another measurement method that is less invasive but just as involved known as hydrostatic weighing where the body is placed underwater and the water displacement is used to calculate the body fat percent.

Since I already had a scale with the body fat percent and the other three methods required me to go somewhere and likely pay someone, I used method 1.

As an example, someone weighing 170 lbs. with a 20% body fat percent scale reading would have a body fat weight of (170 X 0.2 = 34) 34 pounds.  This means their lean body mass is (170 – 34 = 136) 136 pounds.

Since activity level is an important factor you determine your daily protein requirement by multiplying your lean body mass by the following factor:

0.5         Sedentary – generally inactive

0.6         Light activity – walking or gardening

0.7         Moderate – 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week

0.8         Active – one hour of exercise, five times a week

0.9         Very active – 10 to 20 hours of exercise, weekly

1.0         Athlete – over 20 hours of exercise, weekly

This means someone with a lean body mass of 136 pounds (above example) that is moderately active would need (136 X 0.7 = 95.2) 95 grams of protein a day.  That’s a far cry from the 56 grams recommended by most nutrition organizations!

You can’t get all these proteins from meats; that would be very unhealthy.  Digesting meat, especially red meat, for your body’s enzymes to get to the proteins requires a lot of work and generates an acidic environment known to be one of the factor that allows cancer to flourish.

This is why we chose wisely what foods we eat and use the best meal replacement shakes as part of our overall daily nourishment.  24 grams of protein per shake with a performance version that has 36 grams of protein per shake.  Made with un-denatured whey protein (a dairy-free version exists as well).  These are made with the highest quality ingredients, with no compromises in formulation or production.  (If it does not meet the specs; it does not get shipped).  Compared with other products that appear to be a better value (meaning cheaper) you won’t find anything better, we’re sure of it!

To find out more, check it out HERE.

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