How much protein do I need?

Our body has several basic building blocks and protein is an important one of these. Protein accounts for around 16-18 percent of an average person's total body weight. That's because connective tissues, skin, hair and muscle are all made up of protein. To maintain these systems, we need to consume enough protein each day. This is especially important if we are strength training, to repair the muscle tissue we damage in the strength session.

A simple rule to follow is aim for one gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.

However, our body can only utilise a maximum of 30 grams at any one time. If you eat a 300g steak, you will still only process 30g of protein (and excrete the rest!) Increasing protein content during meals does not necessarily mean we will gain more muscle.

So how do I make sure I get enough protein?

What we need to concentrate on is adding more lean sources to other low-protein meals throughout the day.

Usually, we eat very little protein at breakfast, a bit more at lunch and then consume a large amount at night... So we're not taking enough on board for efficient muscle building and repair during the day - and at night we're often taking in more than we can use. We run the risk of having this excess oxidised and ending up as glucose (for energy) or fat (stored in the body as, um, fat!!).

For breakfast, consider replacing some carbohydrate, particularly the simple sugars, with high-quality protein. Throw in an egg, a glass of milk, greek yogurt or add a handful of nuts to get closer to 30 grams. For lunch you could add lean chicken breast or tuna to a salad. If you are vegetarian, try adding quinoa, soy, beans, or tofu. For dinner - moderate the amount of protein. Kitchen scales are a useful tool to measure your quantity. 30g of eye fillet steak will look very different from 30g of minced turkey breast, for example!

Do this, and over the course of the day you will spend much more time synthesising protein into muscle and the other important body systems.

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