There seems to be a lot of confusion about protein intake. I don’t know where the fear of eating protein came about in America. It seems that people are afraid of eating protein. I try to explain to folks on a daily basis the importance of protein and they look at me like I am some kind of witch doctor or evil person. They tell me that if you eat too much protein that your kidneys will get destroyed, or that it is dangerous for your heart, or that you will get fat, or that you will lose muscle. I look at them with a furrowed brow and say — HUH! Here is the truth about protein and why you must consume it daily.
Proteins form the major components of muscles, skin, tendons, blood vessels, hair, and cores of bones and teeth. They help you grow, heal wounds, and make up collagen – the connective tissue that gives your body its shape. Proteins are involved in practically every function performed by a cell, including regulation of cellular functions such as signal transduction and metabolism. For example, protein catabolism requires only a few enzymes termed proteases. Proteins are very complex and are living structures that are the basis of tissues. Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are non-essential amino acids and essential amino acids. The non-essential amino acids are made up inside the body and are not required from external sources (food). However, there are 9 essential amino acids that must be taken in via diet every day to complete protein synthesis in the body. The body cannot manufacture essential amino acids, they must come from food.
The process of protein in the body works as follows. Once you ingest a protein source it take roughly 30 minutes to 2 hours to pass through the liver and enter the blood stream. The blood protein only stays active for 3 hours. If it is not utilized it is excreted out of the body via the kidneys. When protein levels drop this causes a catabolic event to occur which in turn can ignite muscle tissue to fire off protein to feed the internal organs. You see organs are vital to the survival of the human being. If the vital organs are not being kept fed with protein, sugar and fat then they become compromised. In order to sustain the regular balance of the vital organs cellular chemistry adequate amounts of nutrients must be replenished. Protein is a very complex substrate that must be replenished throughout the day to keep the blood proteins high to keep feeding the vital organs. When we don’t eat enough external protein then the body will take it from itself. When the body takes from itself to feed itself this is known as acute catabolism. An event you don’t want to happen. Losing muscle creates greater fat storage. Fat is metabolized through muscle tissue. If you lose muscle tissue you lose the ability to metabolize off the fat.
Here is a brief calculation to figure out how much protein you need per day.
If you are not an active person (sedentary) multiply your weight by .80 and the result is your daily number of protein grams you need to consume per day.
If you are moderately average multiply your weight by 1 and this is your daily number of protein grams you need to consume per day.
If you are bodybuilding and/or very active multiply your weight by 1.1 -1.3 and this is your daily number of protein grams you need to consume per day.
Most people I deal with don’t even come close to taking in enough protein. They are afraid of damaging their insides. I consume huge amounts of protein to test my body. I consume on average 8-12 eggs a day, 1 to 2 pounds of beef a day and I have never had any issues with kidneys or heart. In fact, I get leaner and leaner from eating more protein. I have never gained fat from eating high protein. I have been eating like this for over twenty years. I don’t advocate that you consume that many eggs or that much beef for you, because we are all different in needs. My needs exceed the norm. However, I do advocate that you consume the required amount of protein that matches your activity level.
This is just a brief look at protein. I am currently writing a book on nutrition that will discuss protein in more depth. If you have any questions regarding this blog please email me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to reply.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed