Protein is often overlooked as some “mystery nutrient” which has magical properties at growing muscle in teenage boys. This is clearly a result of a few decades of embellished marketing, and it will serve you well as a “fit & conscious female” to understand the importance of a balanced and consistent protein intake.
So what are proteins?
Proteins are organic molecules made up of amino acids. Examples of essential amino acids are Arginine, Valine, Lysine, Isoleucine, Methionine etc. Essential amino acids are those that the body can’t manufacture, and thus we must consume in our diets. Next, obviously, we’ve got nonessential amino acids: those that the body can usually make for itself. Examples of nonessential amino acids and more long words are Alanine, Proline, Serine, Aspartic acid etc. There are 22 amino acids, your body can make 13 of them without you ever thinking about it.
Where are the best sources of protein?
- Protein supplements
Too little protein?
In an extreme case (if you only ate Doritos for 30 years), you would be malnourished and die of starvation…..NOT GOOD.
Being a little more realistic – the reality of inadequate consumption of protein is that your body simply won’t work very well. Our body need proteins and amino acids to produce hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and antibodies – without an adequate protein intake, almost all metabolic/immune/cognitive functions are significantly impared.
Too much protein?
Firstly, this is reaaaalllly, reeaaaalllly hard to do. Unless you have a personal vendetta to inhale protein shakes like your life depends on it – then overconsumption of protein is much more a theoretical issue than a practical one. However, it is possible. (Called: gluconeogenisis)
Essentially – after your body has finished digesting and assimilating protein for all the various functions within the body (remember – it’s a LOT more than just repairing muscle tissue), then any temporary oversupply of protein will force the body to convert the extra protein into carbohydrates.
How much protein do I need?
There are various rules of thumb that we agree with (2g-2.5g protein per 1kg of lean bodyweight), but we must also take into account the other foods which make up our daily diet.
We recommend that a healthy female who, is focused on OPTIMAL body composition/health/performance (and trains at least 3-4 times per week) should focus on protein as comprising 35-50% of their overall caloric intake.