1.Why is protein important in our diet?
Protein can be broken down further into amino acids, which is essential for the body to utilize to repair cells and generate new ones. In simplistic terms, it is considered the building block of our human body.
Protein is needed for cell growth, especially in growing children and pregnant women. Ultimately, everybody needs a sufficient amount of protein to be able to function optimally with the day-to-day activity we face. What is more important is that for those that are looking to lose weight or those who are physically active may require a higher amount of protein than the average individual.
2.How does the body utilize the protein we consume from our diet?
Protein is broken down into amino acids during digestion. The human body requires a large enough amount of amino acid in order to function well on a daily basis. Read on further below on “How much protein is required by the human body on a daily basis?”
Amino acids can be sourced from animal meat, dairy products, fish, eggs, and also plant products (tofu, legumes, beans, and some grains- wheat germ or quinoa)
You should have a balance of animal and plant based protein in your diet on a daily basis. In all cases, the advice is to try and avoid processed meat as these may contain much higher amounts of fat and sugar.
In general, there are 3 types of amino acids:
- Essential: Can’t be produced by the body, needs to come from food sources. Not needed to be consumed in 1 single meal, it is more important to have a balanced meal
- Non-essential: Produced by the body or from the breakdown of proteins
- Conditional: Needed in times of illnesses.
These different types of amino acids are required in order for our bodies to function optimally.
3. The importance of having an adequate amount of protein in our daily diet:
Protein, is considered a “macronutrient”, which means that the body requires a large amount of this component in order to function well. On the contrary, “micronutrients”, such as vitamins and minerals are needed in smaller amounts by the human body. Our body is capable of storing excess fat and carbohydrate, however, protein is not stored in humans, and hence, our body will constantly be searching for new supplies of protein.
Did you know that the development of hair and nails are also highly dependent on sufficient daily protein intake. So, please take note! With sufficient protein intake, you will not only be feeling better with a healthier body, but you will also be looking better!
The body requires protein to repair and build new cells and tissues within the human body. Protein is also needed to produce enzymes and hormones within our body as well. It is ultimately a required ingredient for building muscles, cartilage, skin, as well as blood. In short, we need protein to survive!!!
4. How much protein is required by the human body on a daily basis?
Dietary guidelines from many sources generally agree that an adequate dietary protein intake for people over the age of 19 should be between:
0.8 ~ 0.9 grams x body weight (in kg)/day
Based on the US/Canadian Dietary Reference Intakes, the RDA for protein of 0.8 grams protein/kg/d is sufficient to meet the nutrition requirement of nearly all (98%) healthy individuals.
The US/Canadian Dietary Reference Intakes RDA uses a reference body weight for men of 70 to 90 kg, and for women of 50 to 70 kg; therefore with the reference body weight utilized, the calculate RDA equates to approximately 56-90 grams/day for men and 40 to 63 grams/day.
Mr. A weighs 60 kg, hence, his daily protein intake should be around:
0.9 grams protein x 60 kg/day = 54 g protein/day
5. Will the daily protein requirement for athletes or bodybuilders be much higher than the average individual?
Two longitudinal studies, which involved strenuous resistance exercise training had shown that the participants were able to accrue lean mass with a maintenance of sufficient protein up to 1.2 to 1.4 gram protein/kg/d. There is no specific upper limit of amount of protein that can be consumed. Based on dietary surveys of athletes and body builders, it indicates that it is not abnormal to see high protein intakes of up to 2 to 2.5 grams protein/kg/day. On the other hand, requirement for protein intake does not seem to be as high in those going through endurance training, typically falling in the range of 1.2 to 1.7g protein/kg/d.
Hence, the conclusion to be drawn from the above is that there is no upper limit in how much protein needs to be consumed for athletes or body builders. But according to recommendations, an amount no lesser than 0.8 g protein per kg body weight per day is needed. And ultimately, depending on your level of activity, you may choose to have higher levels of protein intake, not exceeding 2.5 gram protein/kg/day unless you are under professional supervision.
- Phillips SM (2004) Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports. Nutrition 20, 689–695.
- Tarnopolsky MA (2004) Protein requirements for endurance athletes. Nutrition 20, 662–668.
- Carraro F, Stuart CA, Hartl WH, et al. (1990) Effect of exercise and recovery on muscle protein synthesis in human subjects. Am J Physiol 259, E470–E476.
- Hartman JW, Moore DR & Phillips SM (2006) Resistance training reduces whole-body protein turnover and improves net protein retention in untrained young males. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 31, 557–564.
- Phillips SM (2012) Dietary protein requirements and adaptive advantages in athletes. Br J of Nutr 108, S158-S167.
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