PROTEIN: What is the go?

All foods are made up of our three macronutrients- carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Protein is the macronutrient that seems to get all the attention in the health and fitness world. While carbohydrates and fat are also crucial for good health, let’s focus on the value of protein.

Why is protein important?

Protein tends to offer more satiation than the equivalent calories of carbohydrate or fat, that is it makes you feel fuller. Protein is also crucial for muscle growth and maintenance. In fact, it is crucial for the growth and maintenance of all cells, including immune cells. So adequate protein intake is valuable in avoiding sickness. For best muscle growth and maintenance, aim to consume 15-40g of protein every 2-4 hours.

E.g.:

2+ eggs
120g chicken/beef/fish
120g tofu or tempeh
1 serve of whey or pea protein powder
2 cups of milk
250g low-fat yoghurt

Can I eat too much protein?

For those with a healthy functioning kidney, you are not likely to do any damage with a high protein diet. The problem comes though if protein displaces other valuable nutrients. For instance, if you eat 2x steaks, you may not have room left to get your vegetables and grains in! Too much protein can also upset the stomach in some people, causing gassiness or bloating. For someone struggling to eat enough, the satiety of protein may also hinder the intake of other good groups. We never want a high protein intake to come at the cost of other nutrients, including carbohydrates and fats.

How much protein should I eat?

Numbers-wise, the Australian government guidelines recommend 0.8g/kg of body weight, while those in the health and fitness world tend to tout 2g/kg of bodyweight. More than this is unlikely to be of benefit but some evidence for up to 3g/kg BW for well-trained athletes looking to maintain muscle mass while losing fat mass. For most people, though, worrying about the numbers isn’t necessary. Simply aim to include a source of protein at all meals and snacks to aid exercise recovery and support satiety.

E.g., Breakfast- include dairy or eggs
Snack- include dairy/nuts
Lunch- include meat/chicken/fish/tofu/legumes/eggs
Snack- include dairy/nuts
Dinner- include meat/chicken/fish/tofu/legumes

About the author

Cheyenne Holman

Cheyenne Holman

Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)
Accredited Sports Dietitian
Certified Personal Trainer
Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher