The production and sales of protein-based supplements is a multi-million pound industry, and it is one - much like many other parts of the fitness industry - that is awash with myths and pseudo-facts that lead to downright confusion. In this post, though, we do not seek to tackle the vast world of the protein powder industry, but merely to discuss and illuminate the basics of protein, and the benefits of its consumption.
You'd have to have been living at the bottom of the garden pond not to know that protein is good for you - but not many of us know why. What does it give us that other nutrients don't? How does it help us exactly? Well, aside from getting us big and strong like Arnie, there are many benefits to it and in order to understand those benefits it's important to know what this ubiquitous yet enigmatic 'protein' actually is. To run though the facts quickly: there are 20 amino acids that make up protein; 9 - that's almost 50% - are essential, meaning that the body does not produce them itself, but rather you have to get them from your diet. That's why eating protein is so important, and helps you to stay healthy and ultimately get fitter. And that's the science of it, in a nutshell.
So, the questions: how much protein should I eat? What're the best protein-rich foods I should be eating? Do you really have to input all my food into MyFitnessPal to check my Macros? And many more questions. The current guidelines for protein consumption are as follows: you should be eating 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight (which equates to 0.36 grams per pound, for the more traditional reader). But maths can be a bit arduous and, let's face it, boring - so here are a couple of handy averages: women should be eating 46g per day, and men 56g per day.
These averages, though, are based on the typical sedentary individual, i.e. someone who does not do exercise outside of what is required in the course of daily life. So, if that sounds like you, then there you are. However, if you do feel constantly hungry or you go to the gym/do exercise on a regular basis then it might be time to consider upping your levels. Oh, and this is not going to affect your liver - before you try that excuse!
Achieving the recommended protein intake per day is actually generally a bit easier for men than it is for women, as it has been shown that women tend to crave more sugary snacks whereas men more often hanker for a nice juicy (protein-y!) steak. To make tracking your levels easier, just for a day give inputting your food into MyFitnessPal a go and see where you are with protein consumption - you never know, you might be shocked at your results!