Protein: How much to eat and when
Usually considered to be the staple food of bodybuilders and muscle kissers the world over.
Probably thought about as those huge guys in the gym eating chicken breasts at 5am and chugging back protein shakes mixed with raw egg whites.
But do you know how important it is for weight loss and how much you should really be eating?
As always, Im going to keep this as simple as possible. Not too sciency. By keeping it simple, you should find this info easy to remember, easy to implement and it is information you can trust to see to see great results.
If you use a calorie tracking tool such as My Fitness Pal, you are most likely used to working out your macros as a percentage. Even I do this for new members of my programs to keep things simple in the beginning but I much prefer working your protein out based on your current body weight.
The amount of protein you consume will depend on your overall goal. Whether that be weight loss, maintenance of muscle gain but for today I am going to give you some ball park figures to work with.
The government RDA (recommended daily allowance) stipulates an amount of protein required to be around 0.35 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So a lady who weighs 140 pounds will consume around 49 grams of protein per day. Thats a little over 10% of her overall daily calories.
This is a safe amount of protein to consume, yes. But it is not an optimal amount for weight loss.
My recommendation is that you actually consume between .08 and 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So the same lady who weighs 140 pounds will actually be eating anywhere between 112 grams and 168 grams of protein per day.
That sounds alot right?!
So why so much protein?
Again, without getting too sciency, protein builds muscle. Don’t worry about this though, I’m not turning you into the Hulk or anything.
By building muscle you are changing your body’s composition. You will burn fat and and develop a leaner look.
Protein creates a thermogenic reaction in your body and creates heat. This thermogenic reaction enables the lean muscle that you are building to burn away the fat. And not just when you are exercising! Lean muscle will continue to burn fat all the time – even when you sleep. So the more lean muscle you develop, the more fat you burn. This is why toned athletes look so shredded as their body contains so much muscle it is constantly burning away any fat.
So when should you be eating your protein?
Again, there are many theories on this but it is really quite simple.
Many people associate protein with their dinner time. The typical meat and two veg dinner is a prime example but few of us think about adding protein to EVERY meal we eat which is what we should really be doing.
You see, our body can only process so much protein at any one time (around 30grams) so eating 100 grams of protein in one meal is a waste. You need to spread the intake over the course of the day (you should have an eating window set up of between12-14 hours – if you do not know what an eating window is, just send me a message and I will explain). By eating protein throughout the day you will maximise your body’s efficency at utilising the protein.
The only other time factor to really consider is eating protein around exercise. To keep it simple, eat a small amount of protein 30 minutes before a workout and the same again within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. And dont forget to eat a small portion of carbs too for energy. Remember, we want to use the protein to build muscle. If you do not have the carbs for your body to replenish its lost energy, it is likely to use a portion of the protein and we don’t want it doing that.
Another reason protein is so good for people trying to lose weight is because protein fills you up. By eating protein on a regular basis (around 15-25 grams per meal) you will constantly feel satisfied and therefore you are less likely to snack or binge eat.
So hopefully that has helped you understand your protein requirements a little better. Of course, if you would like more in depth help, please contact me using the link below and I will be happy to help.