TRAINER, KEVIN GAFFNEY
What does protein do? Protein helps repair and build up your bodies tissues, allows metabolic reactions to take place, keeps your immune system strong, transports and stores nutrients, and can be used as an energy source if required. Why is protein important when going to the gym or participating in any form of exercise? Protein is a macronutrient, meaning it is one of the main nutrients the body requires to function properly. When we participate in exercises such as weight training or cardiovascular training, the intense nature of it causes our muscle fibres to break down and become damaged. When our bodies repair these fibres, they are built up bigger and stronger than when they broke down. This is where strength and size gains originate. Protein speeds up this repair process, meaning we recover quicker and can get back to training sooner. Why is protein important for fat loss? A gram of protein consists of 4 kcal (calories).When compared to a gram of fat (9 kcal), this is significantly lower, meaning that you can eat a higher volume of protein rich foods, which will be lower in calories than fatty foods, meaning you will be fuller for longer. Eating in a calorie deficit (eating less calories than you are burning) while keeping your protein levels high will also help you preserve your muscle tissue and strength levels as much as possible, while losing fat. This effect will create that ‘lean’ look that so many people who exercise regularly strive for. How much protein should I eat? Depending on your levels of activity, your protein requirements could be anywhere from 1.5g per KG of bodyweight to 2.2g per KG of bodyweight. For someone who only participates in light exercise such as walking, a couple of times a week. They should stick closer to the 1.5g per KG BW. Whereas a sportsperson who trains 5-6 days a week between training, gym and matches should be eating closer to the 2.2g per KG of BW. E.g.: Bodyweight = 70kg 70 x 1.5 = 105 105g of protein required per day. Good sources of protein: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans or protein powders. Be aware that fatty meats and poultry with skin may add more fat to your diet. One more thing, supplements are to “supplement” your diet, do your best to obtain as much protein from natural sources and use protein powders to make up the shortfall if necessary.