Many people do not actually obtain enough protein for their body’s needs and don’t realize it. Not only getting enough protein is important, but the protein needs to be in a form that is readily biologically available. If you regularly exercise or work out, your need for protein will increase a lot. That is why you need to supplement your protein intake if you’re physically active.
But why would you need to supplement your protein intake? Well, the answer is, extra protein is needed for maintaining muscle tissue. Intensive physical activity puts a strain on the muscles, and breaks down the tissues a little each time. This is especially so for sports like body building whose sole purpose is to break down muscle tissue, so that the body rebuilds them back stronger and bigger.
The building materials for the muscles are the amino acids (protein). If the muscles do not receive enough building material, they will catabolize (breakdown) themselves instead of rebuilding back up to be bigger and stronger. Loss of muscle mass will be the result, rather than increase of muscle mass, and you certainly don’t want that.
How much protein do you need per day?
Next question is, how much protein do you need per day? Several factors are taken into account, such as:
- Health condition
- Physical activity level
Nobody can tell you exactly how much protein you need, because each individual is different. Some sources suggest 0.8g per kg of body weight, while other suggestions give 1.5 -3g per kg of body weight. At the upper end of the recommended daily protein intake level, it may seem rather high. An average male weighing 60-something kilos would have to take 130-160g of protein on a daily basis. This may seem a little excessive, but if the guy was working out every day, it’s not really too high.
Previously, it was feared that excessive protein intake may lead to kidney disorders, but nowadays, many nutritionists agree that high protein intake is not the sole or even major cause of kidney problems, and that the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of 60-70g per day is often too little.
There is also a major difference in the type of protein that one takes – Animal protein contains much higher levels of amino acids with high sulphur content, like methionine, cystine, and glutathione, which tends to make the blood more acidic. The body then reacts by leaching alkaline calcium from the bones to try to balance up the pH level in the body.
The bottom line is – More physical activity, more protein is needed. It’s really that simple.
Biological value of protein
Protein shakes are one of the best ways to increase your protein intake without having to worry too much about any side effects, since these are plant-derived amino acids. However, not all protein shakes are the same. It depends how much your body is able to utilize the protein. This is called the Biological Value (BV) of the protein.
To explain it the complicated way, it is the ratio of essential, non essential, and branched chain amino acids contained in the food. Foods that have a high BV are eggs and whey. After that, comes meat and other dairy products. Soy has a relatively lower BV if compared to meat protein, but it also has other advantages of its own.
Whey is often the main component in protein shakes due to having many branch chain amino acids, but soy is also frequently added. Eggs may have the highest BV of all, but being solid food, they are not as easily absorbed as liquid protein drinks. In conclusion, protein drinks can meet your body’s demand for more protein, and is the way to go if you want to take a high quality protein supplement on a regular basis.