All You Need To Know: Protein
Protein. Where do we even start? Anyone else endlessly confused by the conflicting and contradicting information available on this? How much is too much? Is their such a thing as ‘too much’? More importantly, are we actually getting enough protein? Pre workout, post workout, protein and no workout… it’s a confusing world. Throwing powders into the mix doesn’t help make things simpler either.
So it’s time to break it down. Starting with the obvious place -
WHAT IS PROTEIN?
Protein is made up of amino acids - these are the building blocks of our bodies and help to repair cells. When you exercise you create tears in your muscles, which need to repair themselves (which is how muscle is built, on a tear and repair system). Amino acids help to rebuild these tears. In fact any tissue in the body uses protein to build and repair - hair, skin, nails; these are all built from protein.
So obviously protein is essential. It also helps to keep you full, and plays a significant role in being an energy source for your body too. But why does it matter so much where we get our protein from? Are all sources equal, or not so much?
ANIMAL VS. PLANT
There’s two main ways to break this one down: animal protein vs. plant protein. I’m sure we’ve all heard someone ask ‘how do vegans get enough protein?’ but the question really isn’t necessary. Whilst we all associate ‘protein’ with meat and eggs, the reality of it is that protein can be found in so many plantbased foods. The only difference between the two is the presence of essential amino acids. There are twenty amino acids that you need to function. Eleven of these are made by your body while nine come from food sources and as such are known as ‘essential’ amino acids, e.g. its essential for your diet to contain them. Meat is a ‘complete protein’ - which means it includes all 9 essential amino acids. Plantbased protein on the other hand isn’t, which means you need a variety of sources to build up a complete protein. But a combination of legumes and pulses (chickpeas/mung beans/lentils etc), grains such as quinoa, fruit, veg and nuts and seeds will easily provide a ‘complete protein’. Sidenote: as a company that create both meat and vegan lunches, we’re not bias one way or the other - facts are simply facts.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
Ok, got it. So how much of this do we actually need? Research has found that we need 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight. So take a bodyweight of 70kg - you’d need 56g of protein a day. That equals one salmon fillet and a portion of chickpeas or a portion of mung beans and 2 tbsp of almond butter per day. So putting things quite simply - you probably already get enough protein.
WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN POWDER?
So that brings us to the next point - why is everyone so crazy about protein powders if it’s so easy to get enough protein from food already? Now we don’t have an accurate answer for this one, but a good guess is that it started in the fitness industry. For bodybuilders to bulk, they want to consume as much protein as possible, with as little other stuff (carbs/fats/the good stuff) as possible. Which is why you often see those heinously boring chicken + broccoli meals in existence. A protein shake = a much quicker, tastier way to get this. Good for them, but not necessarily good for everyone. Logic goes though that if these people consume protein powder and end up in such good shape, surely it must be the answer for everyone?
A PLACE FOR POWDER
The easy outcome of it is that as long as you have a balanced, varied diet, you probably don’t need to be using protein powder (no matter what the ads say). That said, it does have its use. Adding protein powder to a smoothie can help to keep you fuller for longer, and if you’re time poor, a protein shake can be an appealing option. And lets not forget that the protein shakes available at most fitness studios taste incredible (Psycle, we’re looking at you). So just like those shoes in the black Friday sales, it’s definitely not a necessity, but still totally justifiable.
Protein is an awesome, amazing thing - it helps to keep us energised and helps our bodies to repair and build. No matter what you're eating - even just an afternoon snack - making sure it has some source of protein is always pretty smart to make sure you're full and satiate and cravings - we make sure every product we create contains complete proteins for this exact reason. The key thing to remember though is that snacking on protein doesn't mean snacking on boiled eggs, or whipping up a protein shake as we're often lead to believe, it simply means snacking smart - nuts + seeds, hummus + crudites, banana + almond butter etc are all a source of protein (and 100% more satisfying than a plain boiled egg, in our opinion).