It’s amazing how convenient food is these days. We can literally go almost anywhere and find it. While this seems like a pretty good thing, it has translated into some habits that perhaps aren’t the best. My mind moves directly to our fascination with protein powder. Great marketing has somehow convinced us that food itself is no longer “good enough” to meet our protein needs. But is that true?
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I would 100% disagree. We can absolutely meet 100% of our protein needs by consuming actual foods rich in protein. I do acknowledge, however, that understanding what those needs are exactly, is something that may seem ellusive. And that can also contribute to the misnomer that you NEED protein powder in your life.
So, let’s break it down. How much protein do you need?
WAIT! WAIT! I think before we discuss that, you should know what the heck you need protein for. Yeah, let’s talk about that!
Protein is an important nutrient that your body needs for the growth and repair of tissue, especially muscle. It also plays an important role in fluid balance, hormones and providing energy. So yep, it’s pretty good, necessary stuff.
Okay, so how much do you need? Well, for most of you PSF’ers, you need about 1 gram/kg/d (to determine weight in kilograms, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2). For those of you endurance athletes, you need between 1.2-1.4 grams/kg/d. So, if you weigh 125 pounds, you need about 57 grams of protein per day.
Where can you find these great protein foods? Well, just about anywhere! That’s right, protein is in everything from meat to grains! So, yep, food is a great source of protein. Here’s a list you might like to reference: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/pdf/webinars/ProteinContentofFoods.pdf
Finally, to get the benefits of protein, it’s recommended you consume them about 1-2 hours after a workout.
So do you NEED a protein powder or other protein supplement? For most of us, the answer is no. BUT, if time is limited and a meal isn’t possible, protein powder can be useful. Be sure, if using, to purchase from a reputable brand and rely on it only when really necessary. Because while it may be easier to get your protein from a powder, you’re missing out on the other nutrients in the food that work symbiotically with that protein!