How Much Protein Do You Really Need? |

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

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With some conflicting advice out there, it seems many of us are still baffled when it comes to how much protein we should really be eating and why. So, we’ve debunked the top five protein myths to get to the bottom of the issue…

MYTH 1: All Protein Is Created Equal

In short, no. Meat, fish, seafood and eggs deliver all 22 different types of amino acids (the building blocks of the body), making them a ‘complete’ protein. However, very few non-animal-based proteins – such as tofu, beans, nuts and whole grains like quinoa – contain a whole complex of amino acids, meaning they must be combined to get all the nutrients necessary. So, if you follow a plant-based diet, try a ‘complete’ snack such as houmous and brown rice or peanut butter on oatcakes.

Protein powders are a great way of supplementing your diet and the sheer variety of options available means there’s something for everyone – whether you’re after animal-based forms like whey (hailed as the king of powders due to its high quality and the speed at which it gets to work) or vegan-friendly options such as pea and hemp, which are easier to digest. Just steer clear of cheap varieties – if whey protein isolate and soy protein isolate are listed on the ingredients, don’t buy it. These proteins are highly processed and far removed from nature so the body will actually treat them as a toxin, which could affect metabolism.

MYTH 2: More Protein = More Muscle

Whilst we’re starting to move away from the idea that protein makes your muscles grow at an alarming rate, some stigma remains. Protein will not cause you to bulk, unless you’re using it in a very specific way, i.e. giving your muscles the stimulus (exercise) to grow.

MYTH 3: The More You Eat, The Better

Actually, you might not need as much protein as you think. As a rough measure, women who aren’t very active need around 50g of protein, 75g if you’re moderately active (working out around three times a week) and 100g or more if you’re very active. However, you’d be surprised how quickly this adds up – just two palm-sized portions of chicken or fish and you’ve hit 50g. Amino acids are found in almost every plant, grain and animal food, so if you’re getting enough calories, it’s almost impossible to be protein deficient. 

As a general rule, if you work out more than three times a week and/or lead a particularly active lifestyle, then it’s okay to eat a little more protein. Some people thrive off more protein than others, but don’t buy into the myth you need to eat significant amounts to become toned – a lean body comes from eating as natural a diet as possible.

On a Similar Note

MYTH 4: You Need Protein Right After A Workout

Yes and no. While nutritionists agree you should consume 15g – 25g of protein after any type of exercise that stresses your muscles (from a vigorous swim to your weekly spin class), many also highlight the importance of adequate carbohydrate consumption. Exercise – particularly high-intensity workouts or strength training – breaks down muscle fibres, and a solid recovery and nutrition plan is what helps build those muscle fibres back up to make you stronger and fitter. While protein’s amino acids are critical to help repair muscles, carbohydrates help transport those amino acids into your body’s cells to trigger recovery. If you work out in the morning, add a scoop of protein into your overnight oats or have a slice of toast with your eggs.

MYTH 5: Eating More Protein Will Keep Your Weight In Check

Not necessarily. Studies have revealed it’s protein and not carbohydrate-based foods that fill us up, leaving us less likely to nibble and binge. However, while protein can help increase satiety, it’s possible to overdo it. If you’re watching your weight or looking to increase your protein intake, swap your carb calories for protein calories as opposed to simply adding protein to whatever you’re already eating. 

Read on to discover the protein powders loved by some of our favourite fitness experts...

Warrior Blend, £45.95 | Sunwarrior

“As it’s plant-based, this vegan protein powder is easily digested, free from sugar and additives and full of nutrients. Blend it with almond or rice milk, a banana and some hazelnut butter for a delicious smoothie.” – Hollie Grant, Founder of The Model Method

The Fit One, £30 | Innermost

“If you’re doing lots of endurance training then this is my top choice – it replaces electrolytes such as magnesium, which you lose in sweat, as well as providing 30g of protein per serving.” – Laura Tilt, resident nutritionist at Innermost

Vegan Protein, £24 | Neat Nutrition

“I’m a huge fan of vegan protein and this one tastes delicious. It’s also super versatile and can be added into everything from porridge to smoothies.” – Claire Finlay, Founder of Transition Zone

Whey Protein Powder Vanilla, £39.99 | Kinetica

“This is my favourite as it’s not too sweet, it’s clean and not crazy expensive.” – Hilary Gilbert, Founder of BOOM Cycle




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