What came before the Big Bang? Did VAR get it right in the Australia v France match? Some questions will always bring about debate. And in the health and fitness world, it's this: "How much protein do you need?"
Well, there's no simple answer, just a lot of questions. Let's explore those:
Why do you need protein?
Here are the basics: when you exercise, your muscles tear. Protein helps repair those tears, causing your muscles to grow. The three categories of macronutrients in food are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. From these macros, food arrives at a total calorie count based on: carbs = 4 calories per gram, protein = 4 calories per gram, and fat = 9 calories per gram.
How much protein is in that?
200 grams of steak contains 50g of protein. Chicken (48g), salmon (40g), kangaroo (44g), turkey breast (44g), bacon (74g) and tuna (60g) are all packed with protein.
If you're seeking non-meat variations, 1 cup of Greek yoghurt (25g), almonds (20g) cottage cheese (23g), milk (8g), peanut butter (65g), quinoa (8g), lentils (18g), and 200 grams of tofu (16g) and tempeh (37g). Eggs are popular for breakfast, as 2 eggs contain 12g of protein.
How much protein should you eat?
The million-dollar question has a million different answers:
The Australian Institute of Sport recommends between 0.8g–1.0g per kilogram of bodyweight per day for sedentary men and women. So, an 80 kilogram man requires 65g–80g of protein, and women require 15 per cent less.
If you enjoy moderate endurance training sessions 4-5 times per week (45–60 minute sessions), your requirement goes up to 1.2g per kilogram. The ratio rises to 1.0–1.5 for resistance athletes.
The FDA in the USA recommends a blanket 50g of protein per day based on a 2000 calorie diet.
The Australian government's National Health and Medical Research Council have an RDI for men (0.84g / kg) and women (0.75g / kg), translating to an 80 kilogram man consuming 67g of protein per day while a 65 kilogram woman consumes 49g per day.
On Bodybuilding.com, you can enter a few variables to determine a "target daily protein intake". An 80 kilogram man and 65 kilogram woman are calculated, respectively at a whopping 166g and 129g of protein.
The smartest guys in the room are usually at Harvard University, and their latest opinion from early 2018 stems from a Protein Summit of 40 nutrition scientists who gathered in Washington DC, which is "studies are ongoing".
Are you deficient in protein?
No. The fact is this – in the western world, very few people are lacking in protein on a daily basis.
If you're healthy, perhaps two eggs, 150g of salmon for lunch, and a 200g steak for dinner is part of your day. Your protein intake will reach 92 grams.
A different individual on a fast food triathlon consuming a Sausage McMuffin with Egg (21g), three pieces of KFC (50g) for lunch, and a large pizza for dinner (103g) consumes 174g in a day.
Healthy or not, you're reaching your daily protein requirement.
Do you need protein supplements?
A staff member at a bustling CBD supplement store who preferred to be anonymous said this: "You need 2g of protein for every kilogram of lean body mass. Supplements help with muscle recovery, and you can obtain protein from whey (cow's milk) or vegetarian sources (rice / pea)."
If you're not into the powders, protein bars provide around 20g per serve. If you're vegan or vegetarian, protein supplements are typically recommended. If you're a Paleo head downing banana protein shakes? Popular opinion is the body only absorbs (at most) 35 grams of protein in a sitting. Excess protein may be stored as fat, and too much protein (without fibre) can cause constipation, kidney damage, and more.
I'm supplement-free because I'm a lean, fit, 80kgs meat-eating lad who believes Mother Nature provides far superior energy than what's processed and shipped in tubs and wrappers from overseas. So, if you're ready to put down the credit card for a tub of Dutch Chocolate, I ask you this:
Do you know your daily protein requirement? Do you know your current daily protein intake from food? Do you know how much protein is within a 200g serving of pork cutlet? Do you train like a professional athlete?
If "no" (echo, echo, echo) is your answer, the farmer and fisherman have got you covered. Protein is healthy. Protein is filling. But you probably aren't going without. And even more important than "how many grams do you need" is "where are you getting your protein from?"
A Protein Revival shake contains 30g of protein, but also 2 teaspoons of sugar more than a Mars bar. Health isn't in cookies 'n crème protein shakes and bars, it's within salmon, apples, water, portion control and exercise.
Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.