The Protein Hype

The world has gone mad for two things. One, the gym; and two, macros. For anyone reading this thinking “what the hell is a macro when it's at home?" - we salute you! Please feel free to continue along your path of innocence where all food was created equal and not ranked in order of protein content.

The purpose of this post isn’t to tell you that Protein isn’t important, because it is. In fact, it’s essential to life and we cannot survive without it, (i.e, it’s for more than just building muscles)! We want to give you a ‘Protein Reality Check’ in this post, are you getting enough? Or maybe it’s more likely that you might actually be consuming too much? What are the functions of protein besides those all important gainz?!

Firstly, the non-fitness uses of protein: Protein is an important component of every cell in the body to maintain its structure and also transport vital nutrients across the cell walls from our blood to where they are needed. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues and also to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a "macronutrient," meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. Vitamins and minerals, which are needed in only small quantities, are called "micronutrients." But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply. So many of us assume that the best thing for our bodies is to eat protein all day long. Wrong! We need enough for the reasons just stated (the current UK guideline is 0.8g per kg of body weight), but many of us are consuming vastly higher quantities than we need, and crucially, of poor quality protein sources.

Protein is the most energy consuming macronutrient for our bodies to digest. When proteins are broken down into amino acids ammonia is released, which is highly toxic. This ammonia has to be converted into urea and then excreted. For every molecule of urea that’s synthesised in our bodies, 3 molecules of ATP are used up in the process, and ATP equals energy. So, the more protein you eat, the more tired you’ll feel as more of your body’s energy stores will be required to break it down.

We've all heard the myth that extra protein builds more muscle. In fact, the only way to build muscle is through exercise. Bodies need a modest amount of protein to function well. Extra protein doesn't give you extra strength. 

So all this macro counting then, is it a good thing? Well we’re not ones to preach at CPRESS, and we’ll never tell you that something is wrong or right; we just want to give you interesting information to read and digest. One thing we would say, however, is that counting macros can often blind-sight you into thinking that because you’re hitting all your daily targets for Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat, that you’re getting all the nutrients you need. But micronutrients, rather than macronutrients, are also crucial for maintaining optimum health. That’s where the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals come from and these are mainly found outside of the carbs, fats and proteins and instead in fruit and veg. That’s why at CPRESS stick to a plant based menu, because it can only be good to eat more plants right?! You’ll also find high quality plant protein sources in most of our food as well. Quinoa, falafel, hemp and pea protein are all excellent sources and will ensure that you’re still hitting your daily requirement, but getting so many other beneficial nutrients at the same time.

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