How Much Protein Is Right For You?

How Much Protein Is Right For You?

I grew up reading bodybuilding magazines. One page after another, they elaborated on the importance of protein (how you need it to build muscle, how you should consume massive amounts, and how you should take the X or Y supplement to make sure you are consuming enough).

When I went to get a Ph.D. in nutrition, many of the manuals I read simply said the opposite: protein is not that important. In fact, it can be completely dangerous. You eat too much protein and your kidneys could explode.

This debate is currently emerging. Types of workouts often recommend huge doses of protein, sometimes as high as three to four grams per pound of body weight. On the other hand, medicine says that most of us eat more protein than we need. The U. S. Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, has recommended a dietary ration (RDA) of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Therefore, if your weight is 160 pounds, your RDA for protein is 58 grams. Eat a 12 oz. Sirloin steak and that's it! You will have covered your goal for the day.

The problem with these estimates is that none really describes a realistic need. The wrong portion of bodybuilding protein might work if you want to look like Lou Ferrigno (although no one needs as much as three to four grams per pound of body weight). For the rest of us, it's too much. And the recommendation of the USDA? The organization describes that "the average daily intake of the dietary nutrient levels enough to meet the nutritional requirements of almost all healthy individuals (97 percent) in a particular state of life." Basically, it's enough to make sure you're not going to die.

What we really need is a standard that tells us how much protein we should eat based on our personal goals and aspirations. I prefer to call this the level of optimal intake. And although that number may not be as high as the numbers cited on the pages of those magazines he used to read, it is certainly greater than the USDA recommendation.

"The USDA recommendations do not cut it, what we really need is a standard that tells us how much protein we should eat based on our goals and personal aspirations."

Dr. Mike Roussell

Proteins: find your optimal level

Suppose you want to lose weight. This means that you probably have to follow some simple guidelines like eating less sugar. But research also indicates that eating more protein can help you pursue that goal.

Scientists at the University of Illinois designed a weight loss program in which one group of people ate the RDA for protein, while an equal group ate twice the recommended amount of RDA.Both groups also did exercises. The RDA group lost 12 pounds of fat in 16 weeks, while the highest protein group lost almost 20 pounds during the same period. The RDA group also lost 2 pounds of muscles. This suggests that you need more protein during a weight loss program, both to lose muscle and to conserve it.

"But wait," the protein pessimists bark, "eating all the proteins does not put your cardiovascular problem at risk? It is meant to block your arteries. "

To assess that concern, the researchers combined a group of people with hypertension and one with cholesterol below normal, and tested the impact of adding more protein to their diets (The OmniHeart study). Nobody gained or lost weight during this analysis, so the changes could not point to the benefits of losing a few pounds. Some individuals ate a diet with 18 percent of their total calories coming from proteins, which is very close to the recommended amount of USDA. A second group raised their protein intake to 28 percent.

What happened?

The group with the highest protein intake showed better overall health. People in that group had excellent decreases in blood pressure, LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and triglyceride levels. Moreover, their risk of estimating 10 years of heart disease decreased compared with those whose protein intake was lower. If these individuals had the opportunity to lose weight, the results could have been even more dramatic.

Therefore, what is optimal? If you laugh at science, about 30 percent of your calories should come from protein. At that level, you will not have to worry about the deficiencies and you will know that you are getting enough nutrients to lose fat while also improving your heart health. Consume some protein in each of your meals and snacks and you will reach the goal with ease.

Proteins and energy

Allow me a break in our discussion about proteins to talk about your blood sugar level. When you eat a meal, your body breaks down the carbohydrates into individual sugars and wastes into your bloodstream. It does not matter if those carbohydrates come from broccoli or cookies. Your body needs energy and that is how it is produced. The result is an increase in blood sugar levels.

Now, your body is very particular about the level of blood sugar, such as Goldilocks was particular about your mazamorras (you want your blood sugar levels to be correct, that is, 70 to 99 milligrams per deciliter, for those interested in the numbers).

When you eat a large meal, your blood sugar levels increase a lot.This causes your body to be affected. Your pancreas responds by releasing the hormone insulin. The work of this one in this case is very simple: it takes care of removing the excess of sugar in your blood. It does it by going "door to door" through your body, hitting every entrance door of muscles and fat cells to see if they will open and take some amount of sugar until the blood sugar levels return to normal.

If your body overreacts, your pancreas will release too much insulin. This insulin will hit too many doors, removing too much sugar from your blood. Now you have a new problem: hypoglycemia (hypo = low, glycemia = sugar). You will begin to feel tired, the sugar in your blood will suddenly be exhausted. You should eat because your low blood sugar is one of the most powerful hunger signals in your body. This one will crave foods rich in carbohydrates to get your blood sugar levels back to normal, even if you've just eaten.

This is where protein comes into play in this equation. The protein can help displace these carbohydrates. The amino acids that make up the building blocks of the protein cause a much lower insulin response than that achieved with foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates. Therefore, consuming more protein will have a less dramatic effect on your blood sugar level.

Proteins also trigger the release of a hormone called "glucagon." This protein is the yin of the yang of insulin. While insulin removes sugar from your blood and carries it to your muscles and fat cells, glucagon makes your fat cells release the stored fat into your bloodstream, where it provides fuel for your muscles, your brain and everything else that uses Energy. This means that of all the types of foods you can eat, protein is the most efficient for your body. It controls insulin and helps burn fat.

A better elimination

When we talk about burning calories, we tend to focus on exercise. But our bodies are constantly using energy during the day and night. Even when we are sleeping, we are still breathing and pumping blood. Our brain is dreaming. We still digest food and look for places to store it. And not all foods are digested in the same way.

Food components (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) require different amounts of energy to digest and process, such as different types and intensities of exercises to burn more or fewer calories. Scientists call this process "metabolic cost of the effect of the meal" (metabolic cost of the thermic effect of food, TEF for its acronym in English). That is, simply eating more protein means that your body burns more calories during the digestion process.In some cases, doubling your protein intake will increase the number of calories you burn during the day. This is one of the reasons why proteins, in themselves, help you lose weight.

Building muscle blocks

During digestion, your body breaks down proteins into individual amino acids. He uses them in many different ways, putting them together as a child combines the Legos to build a castle (luckily, your body does it in a more consistent way than the average elementary school kids). These castles are muscle tissue. To build them, you need an adequate amount of blocks to build.

But imagine that the Legos do more than simply pile on top of each other (they are part of building your castle telling you when to build your towers and walls). That's what amino acids do in proteins. They are not just inert food pieces waiting to be broken down. On the contrary, they actively signal your body to build muscle.

The most important amino acid in the process is leucine, which is found in almost any food you've eaten that contains protein. But for leucine to optimize and maximize your ability to convert proteins into muscles there must be a certain amount present (a protein threshold, if you will). Scientists estimate that this threshold is around 30 grams of protein. You can build muscle with less or more than this amount, but this dose is what research has found to be ideal for optimal functioning.

Once built, the muscle is metabolically active, which means that it burns more calories than fat even while you're resting (it burns more when you're active). And the more muscle you have, the more effective and efficient each activity will become, which will help you burn more calories.

Daily protein diet

I recommend consuming lean proteins throughout the day. Here you have easy and quick ways to work with this essential nutrient at every meal.

* BREAKFAST: eggs, white eggs, lean meats for breakfast, Greek yogurt, shakes with protein powder.

* LUNCH OR DINNER: salmon, chicken breasts, minced lean turkey meat, extra lean minced beef, turkey or chicken sauce, lean beef (top, roast, skirt), tuna, cod, tilapia, shrimp and tofu.

* SNACKS: nuts and seeds, roasted green beans, protein bars (choose bars with at least 10 grams of protein and no more than 30 grams of carbohydrates), protein shakes.

Dr. Mike Roussell's new book, "The 6 Pillars of Nutrition" can be purchased exclusively from Amazon. com.

Video Tutorial: How Much Protein Should You Take.

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