Protein: Are You Deficient?
When we start working with new clients, whether they are focussed on losing body fat loss or gaining muscle we often find they could benefit from eating a bit more protein. Believe it or not a lot of people don’t like the idea of eating more protein and are often concerned about any negative health implications. So, I wanted to get the facts out about the benefits of increasing protein in your diet and hopefully ease any concerns.
Depending on your protein intake you will sit somewhere along the sliding scale of deficiency to excess.
Deficiency; A reduction in the building up and breaking down of proteins to all but the essential organs leading to muscle loss.
Accommodation; No gain or significant loss in muscle proteins. Some reductions in physiological processes like a reduction in enzyme production. Basically we are ok but not optimal.
Adaptation: Your protein intake allows for optimal enzyme activity, immune function, muscle and other tissue repair and provides a safety margin.
Excess: We start to break down protein to be used as fuel to a far greater degree and we have gone past the point where muscle building and repair is improved and no greater benefit is achieved through additional intake.
Even in excess although we are not benefiting from the additional protein it is unlikely to cause us any harm. A review paper of a large number of studies on the topic by Martin et al 2005 states;
“We found no significant evidence for a detrimental effect of high protein intake on kidney function in healthy persons after centuries of a high protein Western diet”
One study found that muscle protein synthesis wasn’t improved with a feeding of greater than 20g (a small piece of meat or fish or a protein shake)although it seems that the level of lean mass is a determining factor for how much protein we can metabolise and there is some evidence to suggest bigger people can metabolise more.
The thing is building muscle is one of the reasons we would eat a high protein diet but there are lots of other reasons to stay relatively high protein.
What about all the other nutrients?
Although we are mostly talking about protein above, the foods we would eat in order to reach our protein intake also have a high number of other nutrients often found to be low in low protein diets for example, creatine, B vitamins and iron to name a few.
Improved macronutrient ratio for fat loss.
Reducing carbohydrate intake from levels higher than necessary and replacing those calories through protein has shown increases in body fat loss, sparing of muscle mass, improvement in satiety, and improvement in blood sugar management without any change in total energy intake.
Protein consumption increases the amount of the hormone glucagon in the blood. Glucagon reduces the effects of insulin on adipose tissue (body fat), leading to greater fat usage and fat loss.
Increased thermic effect of food.
The thermic effect of protein is around double that of carbohydrates and fat. In actual fact eating protein can lead to a higher metabolic rate and greater loss in body fat.
Why are we still doubtful?
The evidence that a high protein intake is of benefit to our health, whether from animal or non animal sources is astounding! However many of us still aren’t convinced its a good approach for them. Don’t get me wrong there is definitely more than one way to achieve changes in your body through your diet but a high protein intake makes good sense for so many reasons!
If you have any questions or you’d like to share your thoughts we would always love to hear about them on our social media.
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