A healthy diet consists of an adequate amount of proteins, as they are essential building blocks for our bodies. In this article, we'll share what proteins are, why it's beneficial to consume enough of them, and what a good ratio entails!
Proteins are one of the three macronutrients in our diet, along with carbohydrates and fats. In this article, we'll focus on proteins.
Proteins for muscle growth
Consuming sufficient protein is often directly linked to muscle growth. It's true that having enough protein is crucial for muscle formation and recovery. Especially if you regularly exercise, it's important to ensure you get enough protein to achieve optimal results in both fat loss and post-workout recovery. However, there are other benefits that demonstrate the importance of proteins!
What do proteins do for your body?
Adequate protein intake promotes healthy bones, balances brain chemistry, improving deep sleep, and serves as building blocks for neurotransmitters that regulate mood.
Research has also shown that proteins can lower blood pressure and enhance blood vessel function.
Furthermore, consuming proteins can lead to slower digestion and a feeling of fullness, preventing overeating and potential weight gain.
Proteins and muscles
One of the functions of proteins we want to emphasize is that their consumption stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is crucial because our bodies are in a constant state of transitioning from 'muscle breakdown' to 'muscle gain.'
The body doesn't have a significant reserve of proteins, so we must continuously supply it with protein to prevent muscle breakdown. If you go without consuming proteins for too long, your body will break down proteins from existing muscle and use them elsewhere. Additionally, the body can use proteins as an energy source when there's a lack of carbohydrates in the diet.
Building muscle with proteins
You might associate muscle growth with bodybuilders and wonder why it could be relevant for you. It's important to know that every adult will lose muscle mass after the age of forty, while optimal health depends on preserving muscle mass.
Muscle mass is not just important for strength (preventing discomfort and injuries), but also for overall body function (e.g., changing digestion and hormone regulation) and overall quality of life, especially as you age. Adults tend to accumulate extra abdominal fat after their forties, and this is directly related to maintaining a healthy muscle-to-fat ratio.
How much protein per day? Here's the calculation!
What's the recommended protein intake? While the Dutch National Nutrition Center suggests 0.83 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, several scientific studies propose 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight for optimal protein synthesis.
For a 75-kilogram adult, this translates to an intake between 62.25 and 120 grams of protein per day. For athletes and individuals engaged in strength training, consuming up to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight could be beneficial. Additionally, the protein requirement may be higher for those following a plant-based diet.
Dividing protein intake throughout the day
Our advice is to distribute protein intake across different meals throughout the day. This allows your body to digest it more efficiently and consistently supports muscle growth (rather than breakdown). Another important aspect when consuming proteins is to ensure sufficient fiber intake to aid digestion. Don't forget to incorporate enough vegetables into your daily meals!
Amino acids and proteins
Protein sources differ in their ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. The key factors determining the muscle-building effect of proteins are their digestion speed and amino acid composition. Proteins are composed of amino acids, and we have two different types: essential and non-essential amino acids. The body can produce non-essential amino acids on its own, but essential amino acids must be obtained from food.
It's worth noting that animal protein sources generally have a higher content of non-essential amino acids and are more potent in stimulating muscle protein synthesis compared to plant-based protein. If you're mindful of consuming sufficient proteins on a plant-based diet, it's essential to focus on a varied diet, combine multiple protein sources, consume more protein throughout the day, or consider supplementing with specific protein/amino acids. Additionally, high-quality, specially formulated whey proteins, such as those found in protein shakes, can also be a good source.
If you have any questions or need assistance, feel free to seek advice from our dietitians and personal trainers at Amsterdam Oud-Zuid!