We've all heard about protein and its benefits, but what exactly is it, and what are its main functions? Protein is a major part of our overall nutrition and is one the three key macronutrients, alongside carbohydrates and fat. It plays a major role in helping to repair and strengthen muscle tissue after exercise.
Protein rich foods actually break down into 22 naturally occurring amino acids, which are known as the building blocks of protein. Of these, nine are known as essential amino acids, which means we must get them from food, as the body cannot make them itself.
How much protein should I eat?
It all depends on your diet, lifestyle and goal. As a guideline, it is recommended that an average adult should have 0.75 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day. For example, an adult weighing 72kg needs 0.75 x 72 per day, which is 54g.
A general guideline for someone who exercises and works out, and who’s goal is to encourage muscle growth is 1.2 – 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily.
What are the best sources of protein?
The great thing about protein is that there is such a wide variety of foods that can help you reach your intake target. There are hundreds of products, from supplements to energy bars, which are designed to make it easy to get protein in your diet. Some of the best protein sources come from lean meat such as turkey, chicken and beef. Nuts, fish and vegetables are also full of protein. There are also many vegan friendly sources of protein available too, such as tofu, pulses and nuts. Protein powder is also a very convenient and popular supplement choice for many people.
Nowadays there are also protein rich milk and yogurts which can help us achieve our protein target for the day.
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