Let's talk about protein today, as I get asked a lot of times about the amount of protein that is required of us to consume.

What is protein and why we need it?

Protein is a macronutrient which is essential for various functions in our bodies such as building muscle mass, tissues and cells, making hormones and antibodies. A protein consists of a chain of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids that various combination of those creates different type of protein, just like letters of the alphabet form words. Everyone is required to consume protein with those that do endurance sports and weight training for more than 5 hours per week requiring more than the average person.

How much protein do we actually need?

For an average adult, the protein recommendation is 0.75grams per kilogram of bodyweight. For example, if you weight 75 kilograms, your protein requirement is 75x0.75 which is 56.25 grams of protein. Pregnant women should have about 25% more protein. For weightlifters and strength athletes, the protein recommendation is 1.4-2g per kilogram of body weight and for endurance athletes, the protein recommendation is 1.2-1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight. Joel Fuhrman and Deana M. Ferreri in their research paper Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete mention that 'a portion of protein (15-25g) is recommended within 30 minutes of exercise, when your muscles are particularly receptive to protein synthesis.'

Sources of protein

Common sources of protein include animal products such as meat, eggs, milk, cheese and fish. There are also plant based sources of protein such as nuts and seeds, legumes and tofu.

Specifically, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tofu, and pumpkin seeds are rich on branched chain amino acid (BCAA) which lessen exercise-induced muscle damage and promote muscle protein synthesis.

Can we eat too much protein?

Some research supports that a prolonged consumption of too much protein can lead to some health issues such as increased risk of osteoporosis and kidney problems. However, other research supports that these risks depend also from the source of the protein, i.e. if it is from plant based source versus animal source as well as the balance in vitamins and minerals in the diet.

What is a fact though is that an excess protein intake may lead to weight gain as whatever protein the body is unable to utilise, it will convert to sugar and fat. This in turn will lead to an increased blood sugar levels which can feed pathogenic bacteria and yeast, fueling cancer cell growth.

A study involving endurance athletes found that when athletes consumed more protein, their hydration level went significantly down as when you consume too much protein, your body much remove more nitrogen waste products form your blood, which stressed your kidneys (Dr. Mercola, 2014).


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