Proteins are essential for building muscle mass. However, the role of protein intake in the body extends beyond building muscle mass and tissue repair. Optimal protein intake is also the key to longevity and improved muscular strength.
Protein-rich foods include milk, eggs, and cheese, but you can also get it from beans, lentils, nuts, etc. So, how much protein do we need? And why are most of us probably under-consuming it?
The role of protein in the body
In her previous post about the role of protein, Yan spoke about the three types of macronutrients: carbs, proteins, and fats. Your body needs those nutrients in large amounts to fulfill its functions.
When it comes to optimal protein intake, the minimum amount of protein you need per day is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. As we age, we have much higher requirements than the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) values. So we shouldn’t just blindly follow our RDI. As we get older, we also lose muscle mass more easily due to prolonged periods of physical inactivity. And as we age, it becomes more difficult to restore the muscle mass that we’ve lost. That is why it’s better to be aware of this now and try to prevent muscle mass loss along the way.
When we talk about proteins, quality is as important as quantity. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Studies show that around nine amino acids are crucial for our body functions. It’s important to take into account how to increase protein intake as well.
With animal proteins and isolated proteins like protein shakes, absorption of the protein by the body is close to 100%. But with plants, it is only 60-70%. For wheat protein, the absorption is only around 40%. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with eating plant-based proteins. We just need to be aware that we need to eat larger quantities of it. A good daily target is 50–120 grams of protein, depending on what foods you choose to eat. For plant-based meals, the daily target is around 125 grams.
How to increase protein intake: Protein as a key to longevity
As we get older, we also need to think about when we take proteins. After an overnight fast, the amount of protein in your body decreases. If you skip breakfast, you need to be careful that you are not causing your muscle mass to be broken down and used for fuel. People who regularly skip breakfast tend to lose muscle mass over time. Surely, they may be losing fat as well, but they are also losing muscle mass. You should make sure you take enough proteins with your first meal of the day. We must consume protein in small amounts throughout the day.
Oftentimes, coaches say that your body can’t absorb more than 30 grams of protein per meal, but that is a myth. Even if there is protein residue that cannot be absorbed, your body will break it down and make use of it.
Conclusion: The role of protein
Dr. Vince Vardhanabhuti, co-founder of Snowhill Science, added that children’s and young adults’ metabolisms function differently. Their bodies use proteins more efficiently, so they don’t need the same amount of protein as adults.
- The minimum daily amount of protein we need is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
- As we get older, we lose muscle mass much more easily, and it becomes harder to restore it. It’s important to consider how to increase protein intake.
- We need to think about the time of protein intake as well. You should make sure you take enough proteins with your first meal of the day.
- Protein is synthesized more efficiently by children and teenagers’ bodies, so they don’t need as much as adults do.