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For Protein’s Sake: To eat, or not to eat, protein is the question…

There is a lot of misconception and confusion out there about protein. Is it good? Is it bad? Is there such thing as too much protein? Will it make me fat? Fear no more, as personal trainer Daren Parks from Orangetheory Fitness separates fact from fiction when it comes to protein.

Q:  I am trying to gain weight and muscle and I keep hearing about people drinking all these protein shakes to build muscle.  How do I know what I need?

A:  Making the connection about your body’s need for protein and how to do it safely is critical when trying to change body composition.

The question surrounding optimal protein has been a debated issue for many years.  The latest edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances recommends that adults ingest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (g/kg)….huh? Here is how to figure out the amount of protein that is right for YOU and your body: divide your body weight by 2.2 to determine your weight in kilograms. Next, multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8 (for the grams of protein).  The result is the number of grams of protein required per day for your body weight. Now that you know how much protein you should be eating, what is the importance of eating protein?

The principle role of protein in the body is to build and repair your body’s tissues, which includes ligaments, tendons and muscles.  Protein also acts as an enzyme to facilitate the body’s reactions and make up the body’s hormones and antibodies.  In addition, it helps maintain the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance. Protein is a necessity for your body, but it is NOT a major source of energy. It may be used for energy in cases when individuals do not consume enough calories or carbohydrates, but in this situation it is used as an energy source rather than for its intended purpose.  On the other hand, excessive amounts of protein can cause liver and kidney damage, dehydration, elevated blood cholesterol, loss of urinary calcium and excess fat storage.  Research has shown that while exercise does increase an individual’s requirement for protein, research has also shown that protein needs are not always as high as some athletes may think. Most exercise enthusiasts do NOT exercise/weight train at an intensity that warrants additional protein. Protein requirements vary with the type and intensity of exercise performed and the total energy consumed.

Here are a few protein myths and the facts behind them:

Myth #1: Weightlifting requires adding protein to your diet through supplementation.
Answer: False. Perhaps power lifting as seen in the Olympics, but not the average weight training exercise of three-to-four times per week.

Myth #2: A high protein, low carbohydrate diet will result in lower body fat and overall body weight.
Answer: False. A high protein diet makes it difficult to maintain a low-fat diet because many protein sources are also high in fat. Whenever you consume more protein than your body requires, the excess amino acids are stored as fat. Any weight loss that you might experience is temporary and due to dehydration.

Now that the basics of protein have been uncovered, be sure to eat the right amount of protein not only for your body, but for protein’s sake.
About Orangetheory Fitness:
Orangetheory Fitness is a one-of-a-kind, group personal training workout broken into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training. Backed by the science of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), Orangetheory’s heart-rate monitored training is designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that stimulates metabolism and increases energy. Led by skilled personal trainers, participants use a variety of equipment including treadmills, rowing machines, TRX Suspension Training® and free weights, burning an average of 900 calories per session. The result is the Orange Effect –more energy, visible toning and extra calorie burn for up to 36 hours post-workout.