From chocolate bars to cookies, milk, and even chips. For many consumers, when they see the word ‘protein’ associated with certain food items they at once see it as a signal for a healthy diet. Because of the healthy image some people see it as a guilt-free snack.
Why do we need protein?
Protein helps build and maintain muscle mass. In other words, it provides us the strength to go about our daily activities. When we are talking about protein it’s important to talk about body fat as well because when you build more muscle mass, it means that you have a higher basal metabolic rate and that helps you to burn body fat more efficiently. It doesn’t hurt to build more muscle mass when you’re younger because as people age, people tend to lose more muscle mass.
Every 10 years most people tend to lose 3-5% of their muscle mass. Muscle mass starts to decline even from the age of 30. So, you tend to lose muscle mass at a higher rate in your later years. As we age, we not only tend to lose muscle mass but also gain body fat. Excess body fat will lead to an increase in the risk of metabolic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. For lower muscle mass you tend to have lower immunity as well and you’re more susceptible to infections.
How much protein do you need?
This amount varies from person to person. Depending on age, gender, and what stage of life we are at. Depending on body weight a child between ages 4-9 needs about 20 grams of protein a day. As they grow into their teen years the amount of protein that they need more than doubles with boys needing about 50 grams of protein and girls needing 46 grams of protein. If you’re pregnant you need about 70 grams of protein a day or 12 large eggs while older adults aged 50 and above need about 75 grams of protein.
Besides all of this, the amount of exercise we do also matters. For people going to the gym, with the intensity and the number of weights, there will be some microscopic tears in the tissues in the tissues and muscles. So, they need a lot of protein for the repair and rejuvenation of those tissues.
When do we need protein supplements?
We don’t all need to be taking protein supplements. For many people, just the food you eat in a day is more than ample. Protein supplements are a convenient way to get either added protein, if you’ve got certain needs or you might be an athlete and willing to lose weight, there will be a time where a supplement is a bit more specific will be perfect for you. If you’re ageing and losing muscle mass, your appetite must not be exceedingly high. In this case, a protein supplement will do the job. Protein powders and protein supplements contain a real lot of protein, and you can get these numbers up very quickly. That bar could have a reasonable amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrate, so that’s mimicking in a sense what a meal should have.
You’ll feel satisfied to a certain extent, and you’ll be able to do the things you do in a day. So, it’s a convenient choice but it’s never going to replace real food because when you eat real food, you’re going to be getting all the vitamins and all the nutrients. So, these things are okay to have from time to time, but it’s not something you’d want to make a permanent habit of.
What happens with excessive protein?
If we’re talking about a healthy individual generally excessive protein will cause more burden on the kidneys and the other metabolic organs like the liver to process the waste products. From the point of view of waste management, taking a high protein diet may also involve taking more fat. This leads to weight gain and increase in uric acid levels. Gout is one of the conditions people develop when they have high uric acid content in their bodies.
In rare cases having more proteins than the body can handle can be harmful. An excessive amount of protein intake with kidney disease can hasten the process of the kidneys failing. It puts an extra strain on them. If someone takes more than their recommended amount of protein, then that’s considered excessive protein intake. It is very individualized. Generally, it is recommended not to have all your protein in one sitting. So, it is suggested that you spread out your protein intake across the day at different mealtimes.
Protein is without a doubt an essential nutrient that we all need, and it now even comes in the form of supplements and protein-enriched snacks so that we get the quick fix that we might need. But most of us get enough amount of protein even without trying. Focus on having a healthy and balanced diet, and only take external supplements when needed.