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Protein with a side of........

Posted Apr 11 2010 12:00am

What is protein?
To put it simply, it is one of the three nutrients that provides calories to the body. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps build many parts of the body, including muscle, bone, skin and blood.

Why do I need it?
Although proteins are often associated with strength and muscle power, this is only partially true; although an essential component of muscles, proteins play all sorts of roles in maintaining our health and functionality.

Different ProteinsHere are some of the most common proteins, along with their functions in the body:
a-Keratin and Collagen: maintain healthy skin, hair and connective tissue Myosin and Actin: involved in muscle growth and repair Haemoglobin: transports oxygen in the blood Fibrinogen and thrombin: provides defence against foreign bodies, and causes blood-clotting Insulin: regulates metabolism Myoglobin: stores oxygen in muscles All hormones are proteins

Amino AcidsAll proteins are made up of smaller molecules called amino acids. The body is able to synthesise the majority of amino acids on its own; however, some amino acids cannot be built in this way and must be supplied by the diet. Amino acids that must be supplied by the diet are known as Essential Amino Acids.

How do I get it?

‘Animal’ protein is found in:
Red meat Chicken Fish Dairy Products Eggs Animal proteins are high in Essential Amino Acids in the right proportion, and are therefore known as Complete Proteins. However, the Complete Proteins can be high in saturated fat and low in fibre.
‘Plant’ protein is found in:
Fruit and vegetables Nuts Seeds Beans Plant proteins tend to be high in fibre and low in fat, but do not always have all the Essential Amino Acids, and so are known as Incomplete Proteins. It is perfectly possible for vegetarians to obtain sufficient Essential Amino Acids, as long as they eat a wide-ranging and varied diet.I'm in strong favour of real, wholesome plant or animal proteins as opposed to synthetic options like powders and shakes. The quality of the ingredients is generally diminished and therefore nutrition is compromised. If you try to get your proteins from sources like organic nuts/seeds, grass-fed beef and free range chicken you can be confident that the quality is the best. You want to try a small portion of protein with every meal (if possible) and the following are the minimum requirements of protein on a daily basis. Unlike Carbohydrate that store in your body, Protein must be topped up daily as it doesn't store.

GroupProtein intake (g/kg/day)
Sedentary men and women0.8-1.0
Elite male endurance athletes1.6
Moderate-intensity endurance athletes (a)1.2
Recreational endurance athletes (b)0.8-1.0
Football, power sports1.4-1.7
Resistance athletes (early training)1.5-1.7
Resistance athletes (steady state)1.0-1.2
Female athletes~15% lower than male athletes
(a) Exercising approximately four to five times per week for 45-60 min
(b) Exercising four to five times per week for 30 min at <55%>2peak
Source: Burke and Deakin, Clinical Sports Nutrition, 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd, 2006

To go with your Protein don't forget your resistance/strength training!
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