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Fitness & Wellness, Lifestyle, Nutrition

How Much Protein Do We Actually Need?

A lot of the newer diets focus on bumping up the protein intake. It’s true that if you’re trying to lose weight, protein will fill you up and cutting back on simple carbs will reduce your caloric intake. But how much protein do you really need and when do you cross over to the land of too much? The answer isn’t all that simple, since protein requirements vary based on many factors, such as age, physical activity and gender.

What is protein and how does your body use it?

Protein is made of amino acids, which are necessary for many functions, including building muscle tissue. However, they also play a role in almost every function in the body, from maintaining the nervous system and increasing memory to boosting the immune system and creating enzymes and hormones. There are 20 amino acids in the standard genetic code and the past 30 years, two additional amino acids not in the code were added, selenocysteine and pyrrolysine. Of those 22, nine are essential amino acids, meaning the body can’t make them, and they must come from food.

The requirement for protein is based on the nine essential amino acids.

If you’re active, you need more protein than a sedentary person does, to repair tissue and perform all the functions of the body. A sedentary person requires about one gram for every 2.2 pounds of weight, while an active person requires 1.3 grams for every 2.2 pounds and those involved in high levels of activity increase their need to 1.6 grams per 2.2 pounds. An inactive person weighing 110 pounds would need 50 grams, which would increase to 80 grams a day.

The older you are, the more protein you need.

The very old don’t process protein as well as their younger counterparts, so an 80-year old with the same activity level as a 50-year old would need more. The very young also need more protein, since they’re growing rapidly. Men tend to have more muscle mass, so they need more protein than women do, unless that woman is pregnant or lactating, then they need extra protein for the baby’s needs.

  • You can eat too much protein but would have to eat double the recommended amount for a long time. Too much protein can cause digestive issues, nausea, exhaustion diarrhea, dehydration and headache.
  • While it’s difficult to get too much protein, even if you’re sedentary, it can occur if you consume too much over a long period. It can cause kidney, cardiovascular and liver disease, blood vessel disorders and even death.
  • You need protein for all cells of the body. It’s the building block for cartilage, blood, bones and skin. Lack of protein can cause edema, low immunity, mood changes and fatigue. However, the average American diet has adequate amounts.
  • One side effect of eating more protein than the body needs is halitosis. It’s the type that doesn’t go away no matter how much your floss or brush your teeth.

For more information, contact us today at Body Sculptors Personal Training

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