Protein is always number one in my diet. John Meadows recommends 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (170-200 grams for me at 170lbs). Protein should be included in every meal as it is essential for cell repair and metabolism. Protein is highly thermogenic, which means 30% of each gram consumed is burned off through digestion. It also helps you feel full and satisfied after meals, making it essential for successful fat loss.
The RDA recommends a very paltry amount of protein at .5 grams per pound. This is the MINIMUM amount and this amount only makes sense if your consuming a high carb diet and don’t exercise. Most people that know about nutrition, understand that high carb diets on a daily basis are not a good idea. (unless your an athlete) On the other hand, protein should be used as building blocks for the body and NOT as an energy source. In other words, DONT make protein the dominant macronutrient. Carbs or fat should always be higher than protein or at least balanced out with protein intake. Protein by itself is a very poor energy source and to reap the benefits of protein you must eat enough carbs and fats alongside it. If enough carbs and fat are consumed, then the protein is used to build muscle and recover from workouts rather then burnt off as an energy source. Here is a list of the many benefits of protein:
- Build muscle
- Enhanced recovery from workouts
- Burn fat
- Essential for cell metabolism
- Faster metabolism
- Better mood and alertness
- Steady blood sugar (no energy swings)
- Support bone health
One thing to keep in mind with protein is that more is NOT necessarily better, so once you reached the daily range of (1-1.5 grams per pound) then any additional protein isn’t doing you any favors. In fact it may be harmful due to excess amount of nitrogen in the blood, high acidity (counteracted with vegetables), strain on the kidneys to break down the protein into amino acids and possible gluconeogenesis which means excess protein gets converted to sugar, which really taxes the liver over time. Also, stress hormones such as cortisol tend to elevate and SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) increases which counteracts free testosterone, making anabolic hormones useless. This is even more a problem on Very Low Carb Diets (VLCD), so make sure to eat plenty of carbs and fats to prevent unnecessary strain on the organs.
Not trying to scare you away from protein at all, just to reiterate that protein should be part of a balanced diet and never used as a sole source of nutrition. Bottom line: Too little and you don’t reap the benefits and too much and you start to see some negatives, so keep it between (.8-1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight) and make sure to balance it out with carbs and fat.