Protein Intake: Redefining the Focus from Quantity to Quality
In the realm of nutrition, protein has long been revered as a vital component for optimal health and well-being. Traditionally, the emphasis has been on meeting a certain quantity or daily requirement of protein intake, or consuming high amounts of protein for muscle building and athletic performance.
However, in recent years, there has been a notable shift in people’s views on protein intake, emphasizing the quality and type, rather than simply the quantity of protein consumed.
What is protein?
As a reminder, protein is one of three macronutrients required by the body.
Protein is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of your muscles. Essential amino acids are those which cannot be synthesised by the body and therefore must be obtained from food. In their absence, it would be impossible to build, repair or maintain muscle mass.
Why is protein important?
Quality protein sources offer a complete range of essential amino acids and provide valuable nutrients that go beyond simply meeting our basic needs. They play a crucial role in building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, regulating hormones, and even assisting with weight management.
What are the recommendations around protein intake?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 0.8g per kg of body weight, but this is a guideline for the intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy people, meaning it is a very general guideline. It has been suggested that this amount is not an appropriate amount for a training athlete to meet their daily needs.
How much protein you need can be influenced by a number of factors such as weight, your goal (weight maintenance, muscle gain, or fat loss) and your level of activity. To find out more about how much protein you should be aiming to consume, click here.
Active individuals may require in the region of 1.2g – 2.0g per kg of body weight. For highly active people and athletes, this figure can exceed 2.0g per kg of body weight.
However, it is vital to note there is a large body of research into protein requirements, much of it providing conflicting results. Therefore, guidelines should be used as guidelines and not strict rules.
How have views on protein intake changed over time?
Protein intake has been experiencing a noticeable decline in recent years, reflecting shifting dietary trends and lifestyle choices. In Germany, protein intake has hit a record low for the first time in recent years! This reflects changing attitudes towards health, the environment, and animal welfare.
Initially, protein intake was primarily associated with muscle growth and athletic performance. The focus was on consuming high amounts of protein, often from animal sources, to meet specific gram targets.
However, in recent years, there has been a shift towards a more nuanced understanding of protein intake and the emphasis has shifted towards the sources and nutritional composition of protein.
One notable change is the increased recognition of the benefits of plant-based protein sources. Previously, animal-based proteins were considered superior, but now there is a growing appreciation for the diverse array of plant proteins. Plant-based protein options, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products, have gained prominence for their health benefits and sustainable nature.
Moreover, a broader perspective on protein intake has emerged. Protein is no longer solely associated with muscle building; its role in overall health has gained attention. Protein is now acknowledged for its involvement in various bodily functions, including immune support, hormone regulation, tissue repair, and satiety.
Furthermore, the focus has shifted towards bespoke approaches to protein intake, considering factors such as age, activity level, and health goals. Personalised protein recommendations now consider the unique needs of each person rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.
Overall, the changing views on protein intake highlight a revised approach to protein intake that prioritises quality, variety, and personalised approaches, recognising the diverse benefits of protein for overall health and performance.
It is incredibly important to be consuming adequate protein for your unique requirements. However, it is also hugely valuable to consider having ample diversity in the protein sources you are consuming.
We have a range of diverse plant-based meals on our menu and we strongly advocate incorporating these within our meal plans – not only do they help to add in the aforementioned variety in protein, but they are they delicious additions to your plan!
At FFF, we use industry-leading analytics, individual data and advice from qualified nutritionists to create a personalised meal plan for you. Plans can then be tailored further on our Custom Macros option, whereby you can dictate the specific amounts for protein, carbohydrate and fat – you can’t get more personal than that!
If you’re unsure where to start, FFF can take the guesswork out of the process for you and give you more time to focus on yourself. Our team of nutritionists are just a click away and ready to help you smash your goals today!
If you would like to discuss a bespoke plan, book a call with one of our all-knowing nutritionists to discuss this further. Have all the information you need but just don’t want to cook? Give one of our plans a go with £50 off your first 5-days with code BLOG50 – Start your trial here.