Most people know that they need protein, and that people who work out need more. But there seems to be confusion on the reason we need protein, and over the amount of protein needed. Protein powder is generally regarded as a “bodybuilder supplement,” but really it is great for anyone who needs to up their protein.
Why Do I Need Protein?
Dietary protein, called the building blocks for muscle, is where your body gets the material it needs in order to repair and maintain muscle tissue. Many people who do not workout have the misconception that they do not need to consume protein because they are not trying to build their muscle, but it’s not just about building muscle. Life, living, breathing and moving, breaks down tissue.
When you sleep, your body does most of its repair from the daily damage to each cell. The nutrients you take in from food, liquids and supplements is what it has to go on to make sure that everything is up to order. If there are not enough materials to get the job done, it doesn’t. In cases where there are repairs that need to be done to vital cells and organs and there are not the proper nutrients, the body will break down muscle tissue itself to use the raw materials to make the necessary repairs.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The largest protein recommendation ever supported by a controlled study is 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or approximately 0.73 grams protein/pound of lean body mass. You determine your lean body mass by knowing your body fat percentage. Relying on a scale to tell you your body fat is not a great idea. Scales and electronic devices can be up to 20% off. Try and get your body fat tested by an experienced, certified trainer.
Formula to determine your protein needs.
- Multiply your body fat percent by your total weight
- Subtract the two numbers
- Multiply that number by 0.73
- You are left with the approximate number of grams anyone would need
In active people can get away with as little as .4 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass.
There are many resources that promote consuming more than this, but there is no evidence to date that supports that train of thought. There are also claims made that too much protein consumption is bad for the kidneys, but once again, there is nothing to support that elevated protein consumption, in a healthy individual, is damaging to the kidneys. However, if you are consuming more than 400 grams a day, you are on your own.
Probably the biggest set back of consuming too much protein is that your body will have nothing to do with the extra calories but to store it as fat. Using a protein powder to make sure you are meeting your protein goals is a great way to get quality protein without consuming excess fat and carbohydrates.
Protein is an essential to any human, from vegans to big body builders, we all need protein. Protein comes from many sources is useful for many things. Protein helps with the building and health of tissue. Many people think protein, think muscle, but this isn’t always the case.
Some of the protein you eat contains all the amino acids needed to build new proteins. This kind is called complete protein. Animal sources of protein tend to be complete. Other protein sources lack one or more “essential” amino acids—that is, amino acids that the body can’t make from scratch or create by modifying another amino acid. Called incomplete proteins, these usually come from fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.
Vegetarians need to be aware of this. To get all the amino acids needed to make new protein—and thus to keep the body’s systems in good shape—people who don’t eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy products should eat a variety of protein-containing foods each day.
A 6-ounce broiled porterhouse steak is a great source of complete protein—38 grams worth. But it also delivers 44 grams of fat, 16 of them saturated. That’s almost three-fourths of the recommended daily intake for saturated fat. The same amount of salmon gives you 34 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat, 4 of them saturated. A cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein, but under 1 gram of fat.
The bottom line is that it’s important to pay attention to what comes along with the protein in your food choices. Vegetable sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and whole grains, are excellent choices, and they offer healthy fiber, vitamins, and minerals; nuts are also a great source of healthy fat. The best animal protein choices are fish and poultry. If you are partial to red meat, such as beef, pork, or lamb, stick with the leanest cuts, choose moderate portion sizes, and make it only an occasional part of your diet: A major report on cancer prevention recommends consuming less than 18 ounces a week of red meat and avoiding processed meats (such as hot dogs, bacon, or ham) to lower the risk of colon cancer.
The notion that you could lose weight by cutting out carbohydrates and eating plenty of protein was once tut-tutted by the medical establishment, partly because such diets were based on little more than interesting ideas and speculation. In the past few years, head-to-head trials that pitted high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets against low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets have provided some evidence that a low-carbohydrate diet may help people lose weight more quickly than a low-fat diet, although so far, that evidence is short term.
In two short, head-to-head trials, low-carb approaches worked better than low-fat diets. A more-recent year-long study, published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed the same thing. In this study, overweight, premenopausal women went on one of four diets: Atkins, Zone, Ornish, or LEARN, a standard low-fat, moderately high-carbohydrate diet. The women in all four groups steadily lost weight for the first six months, with the most rapid weight loss occurring among the Atkins dieters. After that, most of the women started to regain weight. At the end of a year, it looked as though the women in the Atkins group had lost the most weight since the start of the study, about 10 pounds, compared with a loss of almost 6 pounds for the LEARN group, 5 pounds for the Ornish group, and 3½ pounds for the Zone group. Levels of harmful LDL, protective HDL, and other blood lipids were at least as good among women on the Atkins diet as those on the low-fat diet.
If you read the fine print of the study, though, it turns out that few of the women actually stuck with their assigned diets. Those on the Atkins diet were supposed to limit their carbohydrate intake to 50 grams a day, but they took in almost triple that amount. The Ornish dieters were supposed to limit their fat intake to under 10 percent of their daily calories, but they got about 30 percent from fat. There were similar deviations for the Zone and LEARN groups.
What about longer term studies? POUNDS LOST (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies), a two-year head-to-head trial comparing different weight loss strategies found that low-carb, low-fat, and Mediterranean-style diets worked equally well in the long run, and that there was no speed advantage for one diet over another. What this and other diet comparisons tell us is that sticking with a diet is more important than the diet itself. (Read more about the POUNDS LOST weight loss trial.)
Why, in some studies, do high-protein, low-carb diets seem to work more quickly than low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets, at least in the short run? First, chicken, beef, fish, beans, or other high-protein foods slow the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine. Slower stomach emptying means you feel full for longer and get hungrier later. Second, protein’s gentle, steady effect on blood sugar avoids the quick, steep rise in blood sugar and just as quick hunger-bell-ringing fall that occurs after eating a rapidly digested carbohydrate, like white bread or baked potato. Third, the body uses more energy to digest protein than it does to digest fat or carbohydrate.
No one knows the long-term effects of eating high-protein diets with little or no carbohydrates. Equally worrisome is the inclusion of unhealthy fats in some of these diets. There’s no need to go overboard on protein and eat it to the exclusion of everything else. Avoiding fruits and whole grains means missing out on healthful fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. It’s also important to pay attention to what accompanies protein. Choosing plant-based high-protein foods that are low in saturated fat will help the heart even as it helps the waistline.
Federal Judge Rules the FDA cannot Silence Accurate Scientific Information about the Health Benefits of Vitamin Supplements
Good news today from Washington DC, Federal Judge Rules the FDA Cannot Silence Accurate Scientific Information About The Health Benefits of Vitamin Supplements. This is a victory for dietary supplements and for free speech. In another huge defeat for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled unconstitutional the FDA’s censorship of selenium dietary supplement health claims. The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA), along with dietary supplement formulators Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, and the Coalition to End FDA and FTC Censorship, represented by Jonathan Emord of Emord & Associates, were successful in protecting the First Amendment right of dietary supplement manufacturers to provide “qualified health claims” which accurately communicate the state of science in relation to the dietary supplement.
This is a remarkable seventh victory over the FDA by the Emord firm (six of which invalidated FDA health claim censorship). The federal judge denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case and granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. All principal parts of the decision were clear victories for the ANH-USA and its fellow plaintiffs. This suit was the latest in a series of actions filed against the FDA for its illegal bans on qualified health claims. Qualified health claims are used when there is significant but not absolutely conclusive evidence for a relationship between a food, food component, or dietary supplement and reduced risk of a disease or health-related condition.
The lawsuit was in response to the FDA’s June 19, 2009 decision to suppress selenium/cancer-risk reduction claims. Ten of those claims (all appealed by the plaintiffs) were held unconstitutionally censored. The plaintiffs expressed their belief that this violated their right to communicate truthful health information to the public. The judge found that the FDA had denied claims despite credible evidence supporting them and had thereby infringed on free speech. “The ability to share information with the public about the benefits of health foods and food supplements is essential in order to advance the cause of healthy living and disease prevention. Consumers want to make healthy dietary and lifestyle changes, but have been denied accurate health information.
This ruling will allow producers of natural products to provide accurate health information, based on valid science, to consumers without burdensome overregulation by the FDA,” said Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director of ANH-USA. Prior to this ruling the FDA required near conclusive scientific evidence for any nutrient claim. The judge ruled that so long as the claim is an accurate reflection of the state of science, the First Amendment protects it. During these proceedings, the FDA never explained why it believes the censorship of valid science to be in the best interest of the American people or why such censorship would help Americans make better health choices.
The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion released a draft report for its 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans last week. This report that ultimately form the basis for 2010’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Within the report’s language, dietary supplements receive mixed approval. While highlighting the benefits of some dietary supplements “…if needs cannot be met through whole foods.” This statement has prompted a public response from the Natural Products Association (Washington, DC). “When less than 25% of the U.S. population eats the recommended serving of five fruits and vegetables daily, how are Americans to get the vitamins and minerals they need?” said NPA executive director and CEO John Gay. “Advice to cut off a reliable and safe nutrition source, such as a daily multivitamin, doesn’t seem logical or responsible.” Aside from dietary supplement coverage, much of the report focused on addressing obesity issues and expanding access to nutritional products for Americans. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (Washington, DC) applauded such discussions, stating, “The report wisely recommends that USDA and Health and Human Services develop a national strategy to help people eat better, including ramping up nutrition education, expanding access to fruits and vegetables, and getting industry to provide more healthful products.”