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‘Some people need more protein in their diet’ – expert outlines recommended daily intake

What do you think of when you think of protein intake? Most people tend to think of people trying to build muscle and expand their biceps to untold widths. However, it’s not just about people trying to pep up their pectorals, protein is key not just to the life of today, but life of tomorrow.

That is according to Rob Hobson, Head of Nutrition at Healthspan Elite.

Hobson said: “Some people need more protein in their diet, such as pregnant women, those recovering from illness or injury, and athletes engaged in endurance or strength-based sports.” The healthier the mother, the healthier the baby inside her will be.

As to what a person’s daily protein intake should be, Hobson wrote: “The RNI for protein based on UK dietary guidelines is given as an average of 56g for men and 45g for women (this is based on a sedentary population) to prevent deficiency.

“UK dietary guidelines recommend 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight daily which provides a better estimation of individual needs. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2020) has shown that we eat more than enough protein as men consume 87.4g and women 66.6g daily.”

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Furthermore, Hobson went into more detail about just how much protein the body can take and what happens after it is absorbed: “Proteins are made up of amino acids. The body can only assimilate around 25g protein at any one time.

“The remaining protein is stored as fat while excess amino acids are excreted from the body. This means the best way to approach your protein intake is to eat some with every meal.”

While protein is often associated with muscle gain, it has also been associated with weight loss. Hobson added: “Including protein with every meal can help to promote satiety especially when partnered with high-fibre foods and those with a high water content such as vegetables.

“Interestingly, people attempting the keto diet often misunderstand the principles of this diet which is essentially high fat. Often they eat too much protein. An excess of protein on this diet can knock you out of ketosis as the body converts protein to glucose in the absence of carbohydrates.”

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Do we need protein?

Yes, while it is a common feature of a range of foods, few understand quite why the body needs it. The BBC experts explained: “Protein is an essential nutrient, responsible for multiple functions in your body, including building tissue, cells and muscle, as well as making hormones and anti-bodies.”

As a result, the body needs protein not just to build new, but repair damaged tissue. It’s why Hobson recommends its use for helping those with injuries.

However, not everyone with an injury will be able to access protein as easily as others, particularly those who are vegan or vegetarian. The reason for this is because many proteins are found in animal proteins.

Yet, Hobson says: “There is no reason you can’t get all the protein you need following a plant-based diet.”

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How can I get the protein I need following a plant-based diet?

Hobson outlined how you can protein from a range of plant-based sources including:
• Nuts
• Beans
• Chickpeas
• Lentils
• Soya milk
• Quinoa.

How do I know if I’m not getting enough protein?

In common with other deficiencies, a protein deficiency can show up a number of symptoms, including:
• Fatigue
• Brittle nails
• Thinning hair
• Loss of muscle mass.

However, protein deficiency is relatively rare in developed countries such as the UK, the reason for this is because it is most likely to occur as a result of malnutrition or in someone with an eating disorder said Hobson.

Furthermore, there is another way someone could be deficient in protein, by overexercising.

How?

Hobson explained: “There may also be a risk in people who overexercise and don’t eat enough to support their energy needs. In athletes there is a condition called RED-S which is relative energy deficiency in sport.

“This is most likely to occur in athletes engaged in endurance sports, gymnastics, diving and dance. Aside from a loss in muscle mass and bone density this condition also impacts on reproductive health, immunity, metabolism and mental health.”

In the long term, if this deficiency isn’t remedied, it can cause some potentially serious issues such as loss of bone density which can increase the risk of bone fractures.

While not a major problem for young and middle aged people, when people are older and frailer, this could make life more difficult as bones are more protein to break later in life.

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