Over the past few posts you’ve learned the important role that macronutrients carbohydrates and essential fatty acids play in muscle building and fat loss. Now let’s turn our attention to the other one, protein.
Read On to See How Your Body Uses Protein To Build Muscle
Just like essential fatty acids, proteins are involved in many major functions in your body. Your body simply won’t function very well if you don’t have the necessary proteins to support it.
Protein is particularly important to people like YOU who lift weights, because protein is considered one of the “building blocks” of muscle. Protein helps you build new muscles and helps repair damaged tissue. Obviously, this is important when you lift weights, because you’re regularly “tearing down” your muscles so you can build them back up bigger and stronger than before.
Your body needs about 20 separate amino acids (proteins) in order to function properly. Your body naturally produces 12 of these proteins. However, you need to get the other eight amino acids from your food. These other eight amino acids are referred to as essential proteins.
Now, there are two types of protein sources:
- Complete proteins. These are foods that provide all the essential amino acids that your body needs to thrive. Generally, most animal sources of protein (e.g., meat) includes all the essential proteins, making animal proteins complete.
- Incomplete proteins. These are proteins that don’t include all the essential amino acids. You’ll typically find incomplete proteins in you plant soucres.
The key (whether you’re a vegetarian or not) is to eat protein from a variety of sources. That’s because these incomplete proteins likely complement one another. If you’re missing a few of the essential amino acids from one source, you’re likely to make it up from another source.
How Much Protein Do You Need To Eat?
As I mentioned in a previous post, one guideline that you can use is to get approximately 40% of your calories from good protein sources. Since you’re lifting weights (or bodybuilding if you will), there’s another guideline. Namely, that you should get about one gram of protein for every pound of body weight.
If you weigh 200 pounds, you should eat 200 grams of protein per day. Simple enough, right?
That’s one way to do it. The second popular method is to eat one gram of protein per pound of non-fat tissue. That means that you figure out your body fat, subtract how many pounds of fat you have and then eat one gram of protein for the remaining pounds.
For example, let’s say you’re 200 pounds with 14% body fat. That means you’re carrying 28 pounds of fat (200 lbs X .14 = 28). Now subtract those 28 pounds from your overall weight (200-28), and you come to 172 pounds of other tissue. In this case, you should eat 172 grams of protein.
Now, look at the recommended daily allowance and you’ll see that nutrition experts often recommend about half that amount. So here’s what I suggest: Split the difference and start tracking your results for a month or two to see what works best for.
That’s it for this time. Remember, if you’re not happy with the amount of muscle you’re putting on, you can up your protein levels until you’re in the range that pro bodybuilders use.