Protein is the core macronutrient your body uses to repair damaged tissue as well as support the growth of new tissue (including lean muscle mass).
But, that’s not all.
Protein is also used by the body to create hormones, support immune function, and perform countless other biological functions.
And, while many individuals may think they consume enough protein each day, the truth is that most people don’t.
Here are the top 5 people who could use more protein and how to increase your protein intake.
#1 Calorie-Restricted Dieters
Creating a calorie deficit is essential for losing weight and improving body composition. The most efficient way to accomplish this is through a combination of increased physical activity and reducing calorie intake (i.e. going on a diet).
One of the reasons that many individuals have trouble sticking to their diet (aside from choosing a style of dieting that doesn’t align with their lifestyle or food preferences) is hunger.
The good news by dedicating a higher percentage of your daily calorie intake to protein can actually help keep hunger in check. The reason for this is that protein is the most satiating macronutrient, which means it helps keep you feeling full.
A good recommendation for protein intake is 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, if you weigh 120 pounds, you’d want to consume roughly 120 grams of protein each day.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re consuming enough protein each day, you can use the 1UP Fitness App to quickly and easily track your protein intake (as well as all of your other macros and calories). You can also use the app to make sure you’re eating the right number of calories for your weight loss goals.
#2 People Who Want to Build Muscle
In order to build muscle, you have to train hard…real hard.
Intense training causes microtears in the muscle, which needs to be repaired. You then also need to provide extra protein to support the creation of new muscle tissue.
Protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) that your body needs to repair damaged muscle fibers as well as fuel your body’s muscle-building machinery.
The best protein sources are those that supply all of the essential amino acids (EAAs & BCAAs) the body requires to stimulate and sustain protein synthesis and limit protein breakdown. Combined with enough total calories and resistance training, you’ll build muscle and reach your genetic potential.
So, what is the best protein for muscle building?
- Red meat
- Dairy (including whey protein)
In addition to the above protein sources, it may also be beneficial to have a protein powder on hand, such as top-rated Vegan Protein or Egg Protein. Protein powders provide an affordable, easy-to-fix meal when you’re pressed for time and need to get in your fix of protein.
#3 People Who Want to Lose Body Fat
When an individual says they want to “lose weight,” what the typically mean is that they want to lose body fat.
As we mentioned above, in order to do that, you need to create a calorie deficit. Do this consistently, and you will lose weight.
However, something else to keep in mind is that anytime you diet, you are at risk for losing muscle mass. This is a preservation mechanism ingrained into human physiology. You see, muscle mass is extremely energy intensive, which means it requires energy (calories) to maintain its size and shape.
In the face of reduced energy intake (e.g. a fat loss diet), the body will seek to maintain its survival and discard things it doesn’t deem as “essential” (like those bodacious biceps you’re working on).
So, how are you supposed to strip away fat without losing muscle?
Eat enough protein and perform resistance training.
These two things provide a strong signal to the body that says, “HEY I’M NECESSARY!”
Plus, as we also mentioned above, hunger pangs will inevitably pop up when you’re dieting, and consuming enough protein at each meal will help keep you feeling full. It also provides a modest boost to your total daily energy expenditure since your body expends more energy digesting protein than either carbs or fats.
How much protein an individual needs each day depends on several factors including:
- Amount of Lean Muscle Mass
- Physical activity level
Basically, the bigger, stronger, and more active you are the more protein your body requires.
Athletes have very demanding training and competition schedules, which means they typically have considerably higher energy requirements than the average individual that works a desk job.
Given the increased activity levels and the busy schedule of daily life, it can be a real challenge for athletes to get enough quality nutrition each day. Having a protein shake before or after training can help with hitting your protein needs each day, and it may also be useful to keep a protein bar or two in your desk or gym bag so that no matter where you are you always have a delicious, high-protein treat in arm’s reach.
A common belief is that many vegans struggle to consume enough protein each day. The reason for this is that plant foods are synonymous with protein. A lot of plant proteins are also incomplete, which means that they are lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids.
Because of this, multiple plant foods are combined in a given meal (as well as throughout the day) in order to fill in each other’s amino acid gaps and create a complete amino acid profile that stimulates and fuels muscle recovery and growth.
Plant foods that are high in protein include:
- Nutritional yeast
- Edamame (soybeans)
Plant-based protein powders are also a great option to keep on hand. 1UP Vegan Protein powder uses a combination of Organic Non-GMO Pea Protein Isolate and Organic Sunflower Seed Protein to provide 24 grams of complete plant protein per serving.
Protein is essential for optimal health and wellness. Not consuming enough protein can impair muscle recovery, hinder muscle growth, reduce immune function, and make dieting that much more difficult.
Therefore it’s imperative that you consume enough high-quality protein each and every day no matter what your goals are.
If you’re looking for an easy way to track your protein intake, or if you’re not even sure how much protein you need each day, pull open the 1UP Fitness App where we help you figure out how much protein you need based on your goals as well as easily track it.