Protein has many functions in our body and is necessary for normal body function, but how much is enough?
Protein provides structure to muscles and other tissues, it acts as regulators of cell functions, assists in maintaining fluid and acid-base balance, transports substances throughout the body and it can serve as an energy source when needed. Protein is very important for muscle recovery and basic body function but believe it or not, more is NOT better.
Protein intake is not a one size fits all formula, athletes generally require a greater protein intake than normal sedentary individuals. The daily recommended intake (DRI) for protein is .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 10-35% of daily calories. Since one gram of protein consists of 4 calories, this would be 200-700 grams of protein every day for a 2000 calorie diet. Requirements for protein intake vary based on a number of factors, some of them being:
- Body weight
- Energy intake
- Desire to lose/gain weight
- Exercise intensity and duration
- Quality of dietary protein
According to “Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition third edition” On average, this is how much protein should be consumed according to different level of activity:
- Sedentary individuals: 12-15% of calories
- Strength athlete: 15-20% of calories
- Endurance athlete: 12-18% of calories
- Team Sport athlete: 12-16% of calories
- Weight gain/loss: 16-20% of calories
It is important to not exceed 35% of calories from protein. Increased protein intake can have detrimental effects on an individual’s body. Excess protein can put extra stress on an individual’s kidneys. This is because our kidneys filter urea, which is a waste product of protein metabolism. An abundance of urea can place unneeded stress on one’s kidneys. Increased protein intake can also cause dehydration. The breaking of peptide bonds, which occurs when protein is being broken down in our bodies, requires water. This cause our body to use the water that may be needed to keep our cells hydrated. Some protein sources are very high in fat, such as meat and nut products. High fat can cause increase calorie consumption resulting in weight gain. If one consumes a high protein diet, it can often displace other food groups, which may cause a deficit in essential vitamins and minerals. Also, large amounts of one particular protein source, which often occurs when protein supplements are consumed, can affects absorption of other types of protein in the digestive tract.
Some good sources of protein include:
- ½ cup of pasta: 3.5 g.
- ½ cup of broccoli: 1.3 g.
- Skim milk: 8 g.
- 3 oz. chicken: 27 g.
- 1 ½ cup of Lentils: 27 g.
Fink, Heather Hedrick., Alan E. Mikesky, and Lisa A. Burgoon. “Chaper 5 Proteins.” Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012. N. pag. Print