Bro-tein, nah it’s protein. Not just for athletes and gym rats. Protein is a one of the 3 main macronutrients humans need for optimal function; some would argue the most important.
Protein isn’t only muscle – it comprises most of our connective tissues: tendons, ligaments, hair, skin, nails, fascia, as well as forms the basis of many of the chemical intermediates throughout our body like hormones and even neurotransmitters that our brain requires to function. So protein from our diet and through supplementation if necessary helps in many broader aspects than just building muscle.
Don’t get me wrong – muscle is crucial. By some it is considered “the organ of longevity”. Bones give structure to our body. Muscles, tendons, ligaments attach to bones. The nervous system helps muscles to contract and thus give support to our skeletal system as well as move our body. For my very active individuals and athletes, I suggest about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. For example, I weight 185# - my goal is to consume 185 grams of protein of various sources throughout my day – sometimes even more on hard training days if I am trying to build muscle and gain weight. For those people who are light to moderately active, sufficient protein intake can be around half your body weight in grams per pound of body weight. For example, if a person weighs 200# and is accustomed to light activity or strain throughout their day, about 100 grams of protein may be sufficient for that person.
Protein helps your body recover. Often I hear from people that they are slow to recover, sore for days after activity, low on energy, experience brain fog, etc. One of my very first questions is how much protein do they consume? If they are undernourished as far as protein intake goes, it’s a likely bet many of these symptoms will ensue at some point.
Protein intake is a crucial regulator of blood sugar and driver of metabolism. Protein is a consistent burning source of fuel for our body. For example, it provides longer lasting energy for our body than do quickly consumed carbohydrates. With protein providing a more efficient fuel source, our blood sugar is on less of a rollercoaster, and often the accommodating symptoms diminish or stop. More stable blood sugar enhances muscle function and activity, which increases metabolism, which increases muscle, which increases metabolism… etc.
So, protein not only helps build muscle; it is also a driver of metabolism, part of what moves our body and holds it together, and helps regulate energy and brain function. Keep up with your bro-tein!