Protein is one of the three macronutrients, and is considered a primary “building block” for tissue repair and growth.
What are macronutrients? Macronutrients are components that make up the largest parts of our diets. They are used for energy, energy storage, and tissue repair and growth! The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, all of which are our sources for calories.
What differentiates protein from fats and carbs? Proteins, like carbohydrates, provide 4 Kcals per gram when digested. What separates proteins from carbs, however, is that protein synthesis is primarily used for tissue repair and growth, hormone production, and helping to carry oxygen and nutrients in the blood. Excess protein is then converted to fat for energy storage for future use!
All about amino acids! Proteins are polymers of amino acids, and different protein sources will have different combinations of amino acids. “Complete” proteins have all the essential amino acids in their makeup. Essential amino acids are unable to be produced by the body, and are therefore necessary to consume through food.
How much protein should I intake? The Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight for strength athletes, and 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight for endurance athletes. This is to maintain a positive nitrogen balance in the body while exercising vigorously.
How much protein per meal? Everyone is different, and will digest things at different rates. It is a general estimation that our bodies can digest and process between 15 and 25 grams of protein every 2 hours (active.com). Try to space your protein intake by a few hours and don’t overdo the total intake, to prevent excess protein from being converted to fat!