THE BASICS!

Protein along with fats & carbohydrates is a macronutrient that should form the basis of our diets, protein is essential for growth and> repair within the human body. In terms of exercising protein is needed to repair and> build muscle which is effectively broken down when exercising.

HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?

The average person requires around 0.75-0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight, so someone weighing 60kg will require around 45-48grams of protein each day, however when training/exercising this increases to 1.2-2.0 grams. So our person weighing 60kg would need around 72-120 grams per day. Aiming for around 20-25 grams just after exercise.

FOOD SOURCES

Ideally you should be looking to get your required protein from food sources before looking into any supplements. Foods high in protein include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans and> lentils. Some example protein amounts below, please note these are approximate:

Chicken Breast – 35 grams
Cod Fillet – 25 grams
Salmon Fillet – 22 grams
Egg – 8 grams
Greek yoghurt (per 100g) – 10 grams
Cheddar Cheese (40gram serving) – 10 grams
Peanuts (Per 100g) – 26 grams
Baked Beans (small tin) – 10 grams
Sesame Seeds – (tbsp) – 2 grams

PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS

So do you need to use protein shakes, or any other protein supplements, well ultimately that depends on you and> your training/goals. If you can get your protein needs from food alone then no and> this should always be the ideal, however it can sometimes be tough to do this. I personally struggle and> do use protein supplements. Before you reach for the shaker however track what you are currently eating and> work out your ideal protein intake, and> see if you do need additional. Myfitnesspal is good for this, and> can help you track all your macros including protein. If you do need to up your intake then supplements may be the way to go, they can be cheaper, more convenient and> simpler than going for more food!

TYPES OF PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS & BRANDS

There are so many different types of protein and> different brand>s how do you know which one to go for, here is a basic overview of the types – brand>s gets a bit more complicated!

Whey – this is milk based and> contains high levels of amino acids which are readily digested.

Casein – this is also milk based but is a slower digested protein

Soy – a less common type, this is great for vegans.

I currently use Whey protein, it suits me and> is readily available – I have never tried the others but it is always best to see what works for you as everyone is different.

Brand>s – There are so many different supplement brand>s it can be a bit of a minefield, examples include the well known MaxiNutrition (formally Maximuscle), MyProtein, PHD, Optimum Nutrition, Protein World to name a few!

I can not claim to have tried them all, I currently use PHD diet whey protein and> have stuck with this for a while – it seems to suit me. I love the chocolate flavour and> it mixes well with both milk and> water. I love mine with Hazelnut milk it tastes amazing! I go for diet whey as it means I can get my protein requirements without too many excess calories. So any proteins I have tried tend to be the lean/diet versions.

I previously used MyProtein which was great as a start up option, great flavours and> good value.

MaxiNutrition, I have used their sculptress range including protein shake and> bars, however I found these a little bit too expensive albeit a good option. The bars are great for on the go, and> a little sweet treat -obviously better than reaching for a chocolate bar. I also love the promax lean bars from these guys!

As mentioned I haven’t tried every protein brand> as there are so many so I would recommend trying them out where possible first before investing, see if you can get samples or if you know someone who uses protein try theirs and> see if you like it and> if it suits you – there are so many flavours and> options don’t think if one doesn’t suit you they all won’t! I have heard good things about Optimum Nutrition, Protein World and> Purition so may give these a go in the future.

RECIPES

It may be that you don’t always need to include protein shakes in your diet but protein powders can also be fab for making high protein treats/snacks, which could be good ways of boosting protein intake. There are some amazing websites around with ideas and> recipes. One I particularly love is from the fabulous Nics Nutrition – http://nicsnutrition.com/recipe/healthy-chocolate-protein-brownie-recipe/ – these use sweet potato as the base and> include protein powder. Clean Baking is massive at the moment so you can find lots of fab easy recipes to try, if I can make them successfully anyone can!!!

I also use my protein in breakfast smoothies, nut milk, banana a scoop of protein and> add some green veg (spinach or kale) and> frozen berries to get a filling smoothie when I’m out early,

I hope this helps you understand> a bit more about protein and> whether you need to include protein shakes in your diet. Any feedback or questions please feel free to contact me, I’m on twitter @ode2fitness and> soon to be on Facebook!