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Proteins: How much do you need?

Whether it is to gain, lose or maintain weight, many people who work out regularly are concerned about how much protein they should eat. Although some body builders might overdo their protein consumption, in general our protein intake is often too low.

Proteins are what our muscles are made of. They are also the main building blocks of every cell in our body. You need protein daily to support body growth and maintenance. If you work out, this nutrient is even more important as it helps repair muscle damage, build muscle and provide some amino acids for fuel. If you do not eat enough protein it will affect the way you perform and recover from physical activity. On the other hand, when your caloric needs are met, too many calories from protein may be stored as body fat. Of course, this means that a proper combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat is needed to provide enough calories to meet energetic needs, but how much protein should you be eating?

The calculation is based on grams of protein per body weight, in kilos, per day (g / kg / d). Sedentary men and women need about 0.8 g / kg. Endurance training requires 1.2-1.4 g / kg / d. Strength training requires 1.2g-1.8 g / kg / d.

For example, if you weigh 70 kg and workout out 4 times per week you should be eating at least 84g of protein per day. Don’t forget that if you are in a weight loss program and are cutting calories or certain foods to lose weight you may be at risk of not eating enough protein. Here are some examples of good protein sources:

Food choices / Protein*

Fresh fish (90 g , 3 oz cooked)

23 g

Poultry or turkey, without skin (90 g, 3 oz cooked)

24 g

Beef, veal or pork, lean (90 g, 3 oz cooked)

Canned fish, in water  (90g, 3 oz cooked)

Soft cheese like cottage or ricotta cheese, 1%  (1/2 cup, 125 ml)

15 g

Hard cheese,made from skim milk (60 g, 2 oz)

13 g

Legumes like chick peas, red or white beans, lentils (3/4 cup,175 ml)

      12 g

Eggs (2 large)
Greek Yogurt (3/4 cup, 175 ml)

12 g

Seeds and nuts, roasted (¼ cup, 60 ml)

8 g

Yogurt, skimmed or partly skimmed (3/4 cup, 175 ml)

10 g

Milk,skimmed or partly skimmed (1 cup, 250 ml)

Chocolate milk,skimmed or partly skimmed (3/4 cup, 200 ml)

6 g

*Based on average

Choose lean meats, incorporate legumes and nuts throughout your week and of course, low fat dairy products. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein! Remember that to build muscle you need not only enough protein but a balance between carbohydrates, protein and fat, combined with an appropriate exercise routine. Any calories in excess, including those provided by protein, will be stored as fat!

By Christina Timothéatos Dt.P.

Christina Timotheatos

Christina holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of Montreal, and has been a member of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec since 1999. She has been working at Nautilus Plus since 2008, where she began as a nutritionist, before occupying her current position of Nutrition Operations Coordinator since 2010. Actively contributing in the development and training of nutritionists at Nautilus Plus, Christina is one of the go-to experts in nutrition within the organisation. Before specialising in sports nutrition, Christina worked as a dietician-nutritionist at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital for 10 years, in addition to doing consultations in private clinic and private homes. To add to her professional baggage, she also worked as a dietician and nutrition consultant for a school board.

Proteins: How much do you need? is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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