Updated: Nov 17, 2022
If your muscles are strong, you live better. Fact. Not only can you do physical activities such as gardening, carrying shopping, running round after the kids, flipping over a mattress (Ok, that one is a bit weird!), but having increased muscle, compared to fat, has profound implications for your metabolic function. It determines almost everything about your body composition and overall health, such as how you regulate your blood sugar, your ability to
manage fats, and your fuel during times of illness.
Antibodies, used in an immune response, are made of proteins. When a toxin or otherwise foreign substance, known as an antigen, enters your body, your antibodies protect you by fighting them off. In addition, many of your hormones, such as insulin, are made from proteins; and some like thyroid hormones, for example, are made from amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and transported by proteins. Thyroid hormones help to regulate your blood glucose and metabolic rate, and can impact growth hormone secretion and bone health.
Dr Gabrielle Lyon states that most health issues confronting adults today are not a result of being “over-fat” but being "under-muscled".
Now stop for a second, read that again, and give it some thought. A rather different perspective which I think is more motivating as well as being more accurate. It’s sooooo much more than just looking good in a bikini or the little black dress. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many other chronic health problems all begin with inactive muscles and poor metabolism.
There are two ways to stimulate and protect muscle; one is through diet
and the other through resistance training, (either using your body as the 'resistance e.g squats or by lifting weights.) Both are the 'ying' to the others 'yang'; both are required together.
How does protein build muscle?
Protein builds muscle via protein synthesis and resistance exercise accelerates the process. Put simply, when you do resistance training, you stress your muscles, stimulating the processes of breaking down old and weak tissue and rebuilding new and stronger muscles.
Resistance exercise + protein = repair, and you get stronger with more muscle definition.
The more active your muscles, the more likely you’ll have lower blood pressure, better cholesterol, and better blood sugar. Not only that, if you make it a habit, you’ll
improve your body composition with less body fat and be less likely to gain it back. Muscle can help you manage your body composition and your body weight over a lifetime. Fad dieting, crash dieting, and yo-yo dieting put people in a precarious situation where they may lose massive amounts of weight in a short amount of time. Yes, although often much of this is water retention, body fat, may also be lost, but guess what else they lose in the process? Yep....muscle tissue. So, each time you repeat this cycle, more muscle is lost and it becomes harder and harder to earn back. The result is increasing metabolic dysregulation.
How much protein do we need each day?
In short, it's a lot more than you likely are currently getting! The International Protein Board—the global authority on protein intake—recommends a minimum of 1.1 grams per kilogram of body mass for general health with an increase in protein need as you age plus additional protein if you exercise or play sports.
So, for general exercise and fitness, healthy weight loss, and healthy aging, the
range starts at 1.4 grams per kilogram and tops out at 2.5 grams per kilogram of body mass. To make this easier and ensure we're meeting our protein needs, I get started with one gram per pound of body weight (that’s equal to 2.2 g/kg).
So, a 200 lb individual, would need approximately 200 grams of protein per day. Now, if you happen to be obese and you decide to set a goal of losing body fat, you would make
some adjustments here. So, lets say you weigh 300 lbs and you wish to lose 120 lbs. This puts your target weight at 180 lbs. The target weight will be your protein goal. In this case, this person will aim for 180 g of protein per day.
Are all proteins equal?
Protein consists of amino acids. Your body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function properly. While all 20 of these are important for your health, only 9 are classified as essential, which are the ones our body cannot make so must come from our diet.
The best sources of essential amino acids are animal proteins such as meat, eggs, and poultry. However, some plant foods, such as the soy products edamame and tofu, contain all nine essential amino acids. This means they are “complete” sources of protein.
Aim for 20-30g of protein at Breakfast
It's not easy hitting our daily protein target, especially if you start the day having a carbohydrate based breakfast, such as cereal and toast. Busy in the morning? Mix some soya milk with a high quality protein powder to start your day. (A protein shake works as a great snack in the day as well to get some added protein in on limited calories.) Do you have more time in the morning? Make a 3 egg omelet or have 3 poached eggs with avocado on rye bread. Both of those options will give you your required 20- 30g minimum of protein. Maybe for lunch you can take a tuna salad to work, and then for dinner a chicken breast with some vegetables. With a bit of planning and commitment you can make it happen!
For advice about protein powders do drop me a message. Or how about joining my next 6 week body transformation plan where I have planned all the meals to provide the correct amount of proteins, carbs and fats for your health, weight loss and to build lean muscle. Let's be a team, with me doing all the thinking for you and providing the support, whilst you put in the commitment by following my plan. It works. It's been tried and tested for nearly 4 years now. It's the perfect recipe for success!