I’ve decided to start this Q&A series because there are many questions that I get asked so often that I think it deserves a written response.
(And so that I can go “read more here!”)
Q: Do I need to take protein supplements to build muscles?
You don’t “need” to, because you can almost always get enough from food. But it may help you in terms of convenience during the busy seasons.
Getting enough protein from foods is quite easy if you’re a meat-eater, and definitely still do-able even if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.
When it comes to muscle building and maintenance the common misconception is that you must load up with protein straight after a work out.
But what we now know is that eating protein-rich foods regularly throughout the day (e.g. at your main meals breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and/or snacks too if you’re a snack person) has a much better impact on your body’s muscle health.
We talked here about proteins – functions and food sources.
To re-cap, the food sources of proteins are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Fish and seafood
- Meat, poultry and eggs
- Milk and yoghurt
How much protein, then, do you need?
Generally speaking, about 1-1.5g of protein per kg of body weight per day is what a dancer/athlete needs.
For example, for a dancer who weighs 70kg, the protein requirement will be 70-105g/day.
Protein content of foods:
Let’s look at how much of what foods provide approximately 10g of protein.
- 1 cup milk or soy milk
- 1 small tub of yoghurt
- 1-2 slices of hard cheese or 70g of cottage cheese
- 2 small eggs
- 30-40 g of cooked steak (… note the restaurant servings are usually minimum 250g!)
- 50g of cooked fish or tinned tuna/salmon (… note the small tins of tuna are 95g each here in Australia)
- 2 handfuls (around 60g) of nuts
- 100-120g of tofu
- 200g baked beans
- 3/4 cups (about 150g) legumes (e.g. lentils, kidney beans)
- 4 slices of wholemeal bread
- 2 cups of cooked pasta
- 3 cups of cooked rice
- 10g of Whey Protein Isolate (protein supplement; note that protein supplements come in different forms, not just WPI)
In a day this can look like:
- Breakfast: a bowl of cereal with milk and extra sprinkle of nuts [20-30g protein here]
- Lunch: a sandwich with cheese or chicken and salad, plus a fruit and a tub of yoghurt [20-30g protein here]
- Snack: a few wholegrain crackers with cheese slices; or a coffee (milk/soy milk); or a banana/apple/pear with a smear of peanut butter (yeah my favourite!) [10-15g protein here]
- Dinner: Grilled fish fillet or steak (typically 150-200g when you buy portions) with veggies and potato,; or stir-fried tofu and veggies with rice; or a big bowl of chicken soup with noodles. [25-35g protein here]
All together this adds up to, roughly, 70-110g of protein in a day.
This is just an example of MANY ways of eating.
But do you see how an adequate protein intake can be quite simply achieved?
If you have any nutrition-, food-, and/or eating-related questions feel free to pop through an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on the Q&A!