What you need to know about protein

One of the biggest buzz-words in the fitness industry is protein. Are you eating the right source, are you getting enough (or too much), and are you getting the right type? Luckily, there is a consensus in the nutrition world. We asked nutritionist Paula Norris to give us the big protein rundown.

1. Amino acids (AA’s) are the building blocks that make up protein. There are about 20 different amino acids, but only 8 that can’t be produced by the human body, so must be eaten in the diet — called “essential amino acids”.

Animal proteins contain all of these essential amino acids, so are called “complete proteins”. Protein from plant sources do not contain all of the essential amino acids, but if you eat a wide range of plant proteins over a day then you’ll get in all the amino acids you need.

2. Most people need between 0.8-1.7g of protein per kg of bodyweight per day for repair of muscles, cells, enzymes and hormones. Eating more protein than your body can use causes it to be stored as fat.

3. Those looking to build muscle or participate in heavy “power sport” training programs need extra protein to lay down new muscle stores, repair muscle and to aid recovery. Dietitians from the Australian Institute of sport suggest that 1.4-1.7g/kg/day may be required depending on your training regimen (strength, endurance, high level weight training).

4. 1-1.2g/kg/day or protein is a good aim for most people who follow a regular, moderate intensity exercise pattern.

5. Here’s a guide to the best sources of dietary protein, and how much protein you get per serve:

  • Lean beef or pork: 30-35g per 100g when cooked
  • Lean chicken breast or lamb: 26-28g per 100g when cooked
  • Fish: 25-27g per 100g
  • Eggs: 5g each
  • Tin of tuna: 16-18g per tin
  • Low fat dairy milk: 3.5g per 100ml
  • Reduced fat cottage cheese: 12.5g per 100g
  • Low fat cheese: 9g per 40g serve
  • Low fat yoghurt: 7.5-15g per 150g serve
  • Beans: 6g per 1/2 cup
  • Lentils: 9g per 1/2 cup
  • Nuts: 4g per 20g serve
  • Firm tofu: 12g per 100g
  • Edamame: 6g per 90g serving

ff2Paula Norris is the inspiration behind popular Instagram account @MovingDietitian, and is passionate about motivating everyone to find healthier and fitter versions of themselves. Paula, an Accredited Dietitian, is continually driven to dispel nutritional myths and expose the ugly facts about products that many companies don’t want you to know. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the latest on nutrition trends and product insights.