It’s one of, if not the most important thing.
When you hear or speak about protein, what do you think of?
Do you think of bodybuilders powerlifters with huge muscles?
Do you think of where it comes from like the animal or protein shakes?
If you’re not aware of protein then this blog will help.
Protein isn’t just for building muscle.
You need it for repair of your organs, hair, skin, nails.
Regardless of your goal, you need protein.
How much will be determined by your body composition goals.
Your body composition is how much muscle you have vs how much fat you have.
A better body composition generally means more muscle and less fat, and vice versa.
You might think protein makes you bulky but protein alone doesn’t.
What makes someone bulky is too many Calories, not too much protein.
You see, high protein diets actually help you lose fat and keep more muscle when Calories are managed. (1)
Protein actually has what’s called a high “thermic effect of food “(TEF).
This means it produces heat to process and requires Calories just to eat and digest it.
Protein keeps you fuller for longer.
If you’re looking to lose fat, you should be eating less than you’re buring.
This will come with some hunger which is normal.
If you want to make sure you don’t overeat then recommendations are always to have high satiating foods and protein is one of the best things for that.
In one study, they found meals with higher protein (60% vs 19% protein) led to significantly higher feelings of fullness. (2)
You can’t store protein efficiently.
Protein is pretty costly to use due to the high TEF as I described above.
It uses Calories to burn and break it down.
It essentially gets stored as muscle which takes a long time compared to storing carbs or fat.
The issue is that having more muscle burns more Calories at rest than having more fat on your body.
This massively increases when you exercise.
When you try to lose fat, your body wants to get rid of muscle as a survival mechanism.
If you are eating less than you’re burning then your body wants to survive.
Having lots of muscle isn’t a good thing in that case.
You have to tell the body to keep this muscle with high quality protein and weight training.
Weight training gives your body a reason to keep muscle and the protein feeds that muscle.
When you eat a high quality protein source, you’re body receives a signal to tell it to increase muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
When MPS is increased, your body starts to build the foundations of muscle.
This doesn’t happen by magic.
If you combine this with weight training (as stated earlier), you will maximise MPS.
The main thing you want to focus on are quality protein sources.
Things like whey and casein protein are great. (3)
I’m going to get a bit technical here so take your time reading this.
The reason for this is because quality protein sources are high in essential amino acids (EAAs), more specifically, leucine.
Leucine is 1 of 20 amino acids in protein that helps promote MPS maximally.
Of these 20 amino acids, you have to get 8 of them from your diet, that’s why they’re called EAAs.
This means if you get a good, whole food protein source, high in leucine, you’re in a good place.
Without getting into an ethical debate, plant based protein sources tend to have lower leucine and EAAs, as well as higher Calories compared to whole food protein sources.
This means it would be harder (not impossible) for a plant based diet to have more muscle and less fat.
It’s already hard enough to focus on protein without getting having to combine plant protein sources to get the most of your diet.
One of the biggest things you can do for you body composition goals is to have high quality protein in every meal.
If your goal is to keep or gain as much muscle as possible, or keep as much muscle as you diet, then you need to fuel that with enough protein.
More isn’t always better.
There’s a limit.
After that limit, the benefits aren’t massively increased.
20-30 grams of whole food sourced protein is generally better than 40-60 grams (depending on your body size).
Whole food protein sources include meat, fish, eggs, poultry and dairy (protein shakes too).
That’s why eating all your daily protein in 1 day probably isn’t advisable.
Your body will process it but it won’t maximise MPS.
Generally, a good guide is to hit 1.6-2.2 grams (up to 3.4 grams) of protein per kg of bodyweight per day, split out into 3-6 meals. (4), ( 5).
This may sound confusing and is only for more advanced people when they really start to know their nutrition and have more specific goals.
Grams per kilo isn’t for everyone, even if it’s for you, I don’t advise counting every day, it’s added stress to an already busy life.
It can seem a bit overwhelming.
A good starting point is to follow the following guidelines;
Eat 1-2 palm or fist sized servings of whole food protein (from the list above ) in all meals.
You have to take Calories into consideration for your goals too, remember that it’s not too much protein that makes you bulky, its extra Calories.
That’s good if your goal is to get bigger but if you want to lose fat then you have to manage Calories too.
I’m aware I’m throwing a lot at you in this blog post so think about this.
Apply one thing from this blog and then see what happens.
Don’t just take 1 rule and forget about it.
Weigh yourself, track performance, look in the mirror.
If you don’t like what you see, something might have to change.
More or less Calories.
More or less exercise.
More or less protein.
More recovery, like sleep.
You need to think ahead and plan.
After a few weeks of planning, you will know what works and what doesn’t.
Pre prepared meals,
Protein shakes or bars,
Knowing what restaurants or cafes around you that can give you protein.
One last thing to avoid is the trap of being told what good protein is.
The mainstream I’ve heard is nuts, peanut butter, oats and cheese are all good protein sources.
The thing with all these is that they come with more Calories from fat or carbs than they do protein.
This means if you are trying to stay lean, you are going to have a harder time because 20 grams of protein could be up to 600 Calories.
Whereas from a whole food protein source or a shake, you can get 20 grams of protein for as low as 100 Calories.
This is super important when it comes to fat loss because Calories matter first before protein.
The quality of the protein in the above protein sources isn’t as high so you’re going to struggle to keep or build as much muscle.
Your take home message, if you don’t want to count or track Calories is to eat a palm or fist sized portion of whole food protein each meal, 3-6 times per day.
Increase vegetable intake and then add or take away carbs or fats to match your Calorie and energy needs.
To get more specific, you need a more customised approach.
When that time comes, you’ll know, and you’ll reach out to a coach to help you.
You can contact me by clicking here – https://fabiobonanno.coach/contact/
In the meantime, if you have been struggling to get in shape and have never thought about nutrition on this level then try to apply at least one thing to your life that you learned in this blog today.
(1) – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32699189/ – Clinical Evidence and Mechanisms of High-Protein Diet-Induced Weight Loss
(2) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258944/– A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats
(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21045172/ – Whey and casein labeled with L-[1-13C]leucine and muscle protein synthesis: effect of resistance exercise and protein ingestion
(4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26500462/ – A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women–a follow-up investigation
(5) – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28698222/ – A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults
Fabio is a health and wellness coach that changes business mens life without sacrificing the things they love.