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How much Protein is Enough?

Did you know, that your protein needs are actually not determined by your sex (ie. male need more v.s. female), but rather on your mass the amount you exercise, your lifestyle and your life goals. Are you happy with an average body, or do you want to look like Jessica Alba on the cover of Shape Mag.

Obviously the harder you exercise the more protein you will need for recovery, as your body depletes its stores.

The good news is that if you eat a well-balanced diet, you likely have no trouble reaching your daily protein needs.

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How does one Calculate ones daily protein needs?

Well try this simple formula –

Your weight in KG’s  X  Activity Level

For a very inactive lifestyle -multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8

For moderately active (think 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise 3 to 5 days a week) –  multiply weight in kilograms by 1.0

For high-intensity, daily exercise – multiply weight in kilograms by 1.3 to 1.5 (the more you strength train, the higher the number, which can increase up to 2.0)

The number you calculate is the grams of protein you need per day. So in actual fact even 100gm of protein is enough for a 82KG man, who exercises moderately a week. I think we Malaysians eat way too much protein for our own good. Which begs the question.. do we really need to take protein shakes as supplementation? After all, any access protein, no matter how good, will still turn to fat on the body, if not utilised.

The source of protein is also important. Go for fish protein such as Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel (also good source of Omega3) rather than deep-fried chicken or steak (red meat). Don’t forget plant protein either as a good source eg. beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

So how about us women? Will too much protein make us bulky and big?

Truth is, we could never really get that big. Unless we take hormone supplements. You see, men produce higher levels of testosterone then women, and it’s testosterone that’s responsible for large muscle mass and promoting a lower body fat percentage. Since women have lower testosterone levels in the body, but higher estrogen levels, we won’t ever bulk up in the same way as men. But a diet rich in lean protein will help women build muscle. Then again too much emphasis on Protein alone is not good. To gain a gorgeous body mass and sexy muscle growth, reach for whole foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts in addition to protein!

As for recovery. The time you consume the protein is also important. Consume protein within 20 minutes of completing a workout. Since I am lactose intolerant, I like chocolate soy milk, but low-fat chocolate milk does the trick well if you can tolerate lactose.

With regards to ladies trying to lose weight. Protein helps as it is harder to digest and highly satiating – it stays in the stomach longer and makes you feel full for longer. But again a high nutrient rich, balanced diet is key – high fibre foods such as whole grains and fruits, or healthy fats in nuts, seeds and avocados are beneficial too. Don’t forget ladies, progesterone such as those found in walnuts help regulate changing hormone levels and can help by reducing PMS symptoms. Progesterone also prevents allergies, asthma, migraine headaches and weight gain because it helps to burn fat. It also enhances the function of the thyroid gland and inhibits the over production of insulin. Walnuts are excellent as they are naturally rich in plant sterols which encourage the body to produce the required amounts of progesterone.

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