Protein is the main building material of the body. The main source of protein is the food you eat. Protein, in the human body, is needed to build new muscle fibers as well as to repair damaged tissue. And protein is necessary not only for muscle recovery. It is also essential for the normal functioning or repair of organs, ligaments, tendons, and bone tissue. In the process of digestion, protein breaks down into simpler components called amino acids. They are the building blocks for your muscles.
Varieties of amino acids
There are a large number of amino acids in nature, but from protein you can get 20 amino acids: 8 essential and 12 non-essential.
1) Essential amino acids are amino acids that are not produced by the body. These amino acids must be consumed regularly with food. These include: histidine, methionine, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, tryptophan. From these amino acids, the most important in terms of building and preserving muscle tissue breakdown are 3 amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine or BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids).
2) Nonessential amino acids are amino acids that can be synthesized by the body from other amino acids. These include: alanine, glycine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, proline, serine, taurine, tyrosine. These amino acids must also be consumed with food, but their peculiarity is in the fact that our body can, from an excess of one amino acid, make another amino acid, which is in deficit in the body.
Varieties of protein
1) Animal protein is found in meat, fish and seafood, dairy products and eggs.
2) Plant (vegetable) protein is found in cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruits, as well as in nuts.
There is also a classification of protein according to the content of essential amino acids. There are complete proteins which contain the entire spectrum of essential amino acids. And there are also defective (incomplete) proteins that contain only a part of the essential amino acids. Generally, animal protein has a richer and more complete amino acid profile and is better absorbed by the body. This means that it is a priority for building new muscle tissue.
But it happens that a vegetable protein contains even more amino acids, macro and micro-nutrients than animal. Therefore, when making up a diet, it should be taken into account that approximately 70-80% of protein should come from food of animal origin, and 20-30% from food of plant origin.
Protein digestion rate
Different types of protein have different absorption rates. According to the speed of digestion, they can be divided into fast, medium and slow. Fast proteins of animal origin include fish, seafood, eggs. Such proteins are broken down into amino acids after about 30-60 minutes and get to the cells of the body. Proteins with a medium rate of digestion include milk and poultry (chicken or turkey). Such proteins are broken down in the body to amino acids after about 2 hours. Slow ones include beef, pork, hard cheese, cottage cheese. Slow proteins are able to supply the body with amino acids for a long time (up to 6 hours).
Based on this, it should be taken into account which type of protein is best used throughout the day. In the morning, an hour before and immediately after your workout, fast proteins are the best. During the day, proteins with a medium absorption rate are the best, but for later meals, slow proteins are the best. But this does not mean that you need to eat a piece of fried fatty pork for supper. It is also worth taking into account the calorie content of protein products when making up your diet, and therefore, low-fat cottage cheese will be the optimal meal before bedtime.
In addition, the way of cooking of the protein also affects the rate of protein absorption. For example, chicken fillet cutlets will be digested faster than a whole piece of fillet, due to the fact that there will be a more chopped product fraction in the cutlets.
How much protein do I need to eat for muscle growth
To build new muscle fibers, an increased amount of amino acids is required, and therefore an increased amount of eaten protein. Therefore, bodybuilders need to eat about 1.5-2.5 grams of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight per day. Moreover, it is best to count the protein of animal origin.
How much protein can you absorb during one meal
There is an opinion that the body can absorb up to 30 grams of protein in one meal. You’ve probably heard about it, read it on the Internet or watched a video on Youtube. This opinion is based on some studies conducted in 2009. And these studies showed that protein intake in excess of 30 grams did not affect muscle recovery in any way. But these studies were conducted over a period of time 2-4 hours after training. The rest of the time periods were not studied. In addition, studies were conducted on people weighing 70 kilograms.
In fact, I can say that for a person weighing 70 kilograms, 30 grams of protein can and will be enough for recovery after training. But it is obvious that for a person weighing 100 kilograms this will not be enough and 30 grams of protein will affect his muscle recovery much less compared with a person weighing 70 kilograms.
Physiologically, the intestinal absorption capacity is very high. The human intestine can absorb 500 grams of fat, 600-700 grams of protein and 20 liters of water per day, if it is necessary. Therefore, it is not necessary to consume portions strictly up to 30 grams of protein. The main thing is that during the day, you eat the necessary amount of protein for muscle growth which is 1.5-2.5 grams per 1 kilogram of weight.
Correct intake of protein
1) Stick to a daily protein intake of 1.5-2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. Only animal protein should be calculated.
2) Consider protein absorption time. Eat fast proteins in the morning, an hour before and immediately after training. Eat proteins with a medium rate of assimilation during the day, and eat slow proteins in the evening.
3) Don’t limit yourself to 30 grams of protein per meal.
4) Eat protein with carbohydrates and fats. As you know, eating carbohydrates stimulates the body to produce the transport hormone called insulin. Eating protein with carbohydrates will allow the amino acids to be transported to the body cells faster.
The Protein Content in Common Foods
Below is the animal protein content per 100 grams of the most common foods:
Cow milk – from 3.0 to 3.3
Chiken egg – from 10.6 to 13.6
Cheese – from 16.4 to 40.7
Beef – from 16.2 to 40
Chiken – from 18.9 to 27
Pork – from 26 to 31
Lamb – from 21 to 46
Fish and Seafood:
Salmon – from 20.4 to 23
Caviar – from 23 to 25
Lobster – from 18.8 to 21.5
Squid – from 16 to 19.1
Shrimp – from 15.9 to 19
List of foods by protein content
The amount of animal protein in meat and seafood is shown below:
The amount of plant protein in vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and grains is shown below: