Our bodies use protein for all sorts of different reasons, some of these reasons are obvious and some are not so obvious, such as for skin and hair. No matter what our bodies use protein for, certain other things need to be present before our bodies can use the protein we consume.
This is where amino acids come into play, amino acids are often over looked by many less experienced bodybuilders. Without the right amino acids in our bodies, much of the protein that we consume will not be used.
In bodybuilding we consume protein for the propose of building muscle, however the body cannot actually use the protein that we consume unless it has the necessary amino acids. Our bodies do produce a certain amount of amino acids naturally, however many foods also have high levels of amino acids. So it’s a good idea to know what foods have high levels of protein and the right amino acids combined.
Foods that are considered to be complete protein foods will have all the amino acids necessary for muscle growth and development. An example of the these complete protein foods are
- Soy Beans
So is protein percentage important?
Yes it can be but it’s not that simple, our bodies can only use a certain amount of protein at any given time. Amino acids is what allows our bodies to actually make use of the protein that we have consumed. This makes paying attention to the protein percentage in our food and the grams of protein that we consume less important. It’s more about the amount of usable protein that we consume, if our bodies can’t use the protein then the excess protein is just wasted, and what is the point of that! I maybe repeating myself here but the point is very important and worth repeating a few times.
Certain foods such as various nuts, various beans, rice and potatoes contain a fairly high amount of protein. However these foods lack many of the various amino acids that the body needs to utilize that protein, these forms of protein are referred to as (incomplete) protein. There is nothing wrong with eating foods that have incomplete protein, however for the greatest results you should look at mixing them with foods that contain the necessary amino acids.
A basic look at protein
Protein is made up of several different elements, these elements are hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. Sometimes you will hear lifters talking about positive and negative nitrogen, they are referring to anabolic state (positive nitrogen balance – building muscle) or catabolic (negative nitrogen balance – losing muscle).
How much protein do you need?
Getting back to the original question. 1 gram, per 1 pound of body weight is the usual recommend protein consumption when trying to increase muscle mass. So a 200lbs man requires around 200 grams of protein per day. However when you are talking about body weight, this is lean body weight, so an over weight 300lbs man doesn’t require 300 grams of protein per day.
Gains can still be made by consuming considerably less than the recommend 1 gram per 1 pound of body weight, so don’t think this recommendation is set in stone. In fact some say the 1 gram per 1 pound of body weight is way too much.
A good starting point would be, 100grams per day, spread out during the day. Say every 4 hours consume a decent source of protein and see how you go, then increase it if you don’t see good results over a period of 6 months.