Should you add extra protein to your diet to beef up those muscles?

Fit and muscular types chugging down a protein shake at the gym is not an unusual sight. Or maybe you’ve even become accustomed to the familiar rattle of a workmate’s daily protein shaking ritual.

Have you ever wondered if you should follow suit, especially if you work out on a weekly basis?

Breaking it down

Protein is made up of ‘chains’ of smaller chemicals called amino acids. Some amino acids can be found in the body, but others are found in the food we eat daily. Protein is essential for cell growth and repair, which is why it is commonly associated with gym junkies and their ever expanding muscles.

Here’s the good news; according to the Dieticians Association of Australia, most people eat enough protein to not have to supplement their diet with extra. In fact, excessive protein consumption will go to waste! Any protein that the body doesn’t need will be excreted.

You might be wondering just how much protein do I need in my diet each day? The Australian Sports Commission estimates that 0.8-1.0 grams per kilogram (per day) is adequate for protein intake in sedentary men and women.

The average Australian woman, measuring in at 161cm tall and weighing 71kg, would therefore need approximately 70 grams of protein per day. That’s equivalent to having two small eggs, four slices of wholemeal bread, one cup of low-fat milk, 60 grams of nuts or seeds, 200 grams of reduced fat yogurt, 40 grams of lean chicken, and two cups of cooked pasta per day.

For some people, upping their intake of protein via supplements means they risk aggravating kidney issues they never realised they had. Tragically, that’s what happened in the case of 25-year-old mother-of-two, Megan Hefford, who died earlier this year from a rare genetic disorder that impacts the kidney’s ability to process protein normally. Body building supplements were highlighted on the death certificate as a contributing cause.

If you’re more athletically inclined, the Australian Sports Commission website has all the know how about protein for your specific type of training.

Prefer your protein ‘au naturel’ as opposed to the powder? Here’s a list of foods rich in the stuff. There are some good options for vegos and vegans too!

To sum it up, protein is very good for our bodies, whether you hit the gym every week or not. Stay within moderation, don’t go overboard, and you’ll be just fine!

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