Protein is something we have all been hearing a lot about in the health and fitness space. It is a huge topic and for good reason. So, let’s have a look at what protein actually is, why we need it and where it comes from. I’m hoping that after reading this post you have a clearer understanding of what protein is all about and why it is instrumental for athletic development.
So what is protein? Protein is one of three macronutrients that make up our daily calories, the other two being carbohydrates and fats. Each gram of protein is 4 calories, which is the same for carbohydrates, while 1 gram of fat is 9 calories. Protein is composed of amino acids, which are compounds made up of sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, so it is important to get a full range. If we only stick to one source of protein, and that source doesn’t have a complete amino acid profile, our bodies won’t get all the benefits or complete absorption of the protein we take in.
Why do we need protein?
The amount of protein needed differs for each person. We need to consider the weight of the individual, their daily activity level, and what goals they may have. For both men and women, the minimum amount is 0.8 – 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or around 25% of your total calories per day. But as soon as we start thinking about goals and exercise, that number needs to rise. Myself, a 1.86 m tall, 92 kg and relatively active 29 year old male, I try to get around 1.5 – 1.75 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, bringing my total to around 160 grams of protein per day and 35% of my daily calories.
So now that we know the what, why and how much, let’s have a look at the where from. We all probably know that protein comes from meat, fish and dairy, but other great sources of protein are also nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables. Each source of protein has different attributes and our body will react differently when we consume these different sources of protein.
Some of the benefits of consuming plant-based sources of protein are:
- Lower in calories – as plant-based protein doesn’t come with the animal fats, it will more than likely be considerably lower in calories. This is a huge positive when we are trying to put ourselves in a calorie deficit to lose body fat.
- Higher in fibre – as our bodies need fibre to help regulate digestion and slow down the absorption of sugars, a higher fibre content will mean we don’t experience huge insulin spikes and the subsequent crashes.
- Sustainability – as plant-based sources of protein have a much smaller carbon footprint, they are much more sustainable.
- Less bloating – as whey proteins are made with dairy, if you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or digestion issues, you may find that whey protein makes you feel sluggish, bloated and uncomfortable.
These are only a few of the many positives when swapping from animal protein to plant-based protein sources. Plant-based proteins have so many benefits that I would also like to take a look at their main shortfall, and how CrossPro Nutrition for example has fixed that issue.
Most plant-based proteins are missing some of the amino acids that we need to get their full benefit. While it is possible to get a complete amino acid profile from plant-based sources, it can become quite expensive. You also need to remember to take different supplements throughout your day.
This was always the biggest reason I would use whey protein over plant-based protein shakes. CrossPro’s blend of pea and hemp protein makes sure you get a complete amino acid profile, all from one source. With 20 grams of protein per serving, a complete amino acid profile and no soy, gluten or lactose, I know I’m giving my body a great boost and adding recovery for my next session.
AUTHOR and Ardoa #TeamCrossPro member
P.S. Try the chocolate cinnamon flavour with hazelnut milk and thank me later!
Where to buy:
Go to the Ardoa Market to buy our 100% plant-based CrossPro Pea & Hemp Protein
Read more about the advantages of plant-based protein for for athletes.