Protein is used as building blocks in our bodies for new cell formation and has an important role in recovery for this reason, each gram of protein has 4 calories. Protein can also be used as a fuel source and depending on how low your glycogen stores are will affect how much protein is used when energy is needed. Which means if we don’t get enough carbs in our diet and although we may intake a sufficient amount of protein, this protein is not being used to repair our muscle but being converted to energy which can therefore lead to a loss in muscle mass.
Protein is made up of 20 different amino acids some of which we get from our diet (known as essential) and others are created in the body (known as non-essential). The most often referred to amino acid when it comes to muscle recovery is leucine, this amino acid plays a close role with promoting muscle protein synthesis (muscle repair). Sources of leucine include Dairy, soy, beans and legumes. Protein requirements for individuals involved in regular exercise is 0.75g/kg of body weight as it is believed their bodies are better adapted to protein synthesis, however various studies have shown that beginners require a higher amount of protein intake and the recommended amount is in the range of 1.2-2g/kg of bodyweight and 1.8-2.7g/kg of bodyweight during weight loss to minimise and reduce loss of muscle mass. It is recommended to increase protein intake when dieting as it promotes satiety more than carbs.
The best sources of protein are meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts and seeds.