So, you’ve started working out. That’s amazing!

Now, you’ve heard everyone talking about how much protein they’re eating and how they’re getting in so much protein, but you’re unsure why. It can sound daunting and we’re here to help. So why is protein so important?

Protein is Greek for ‘primary’ and that’s exactly what it is. It’s the foundation for every cell in the body. It is made from amino acids, which are the building blocks of our bones, muscles, cartilage and skin! Our hair and nails are almost entirely made from protein. It’s essentially the lego of our bodies.

What does protein do in our body?

Your body uses these amino acids to build and repair your muscles and bones. It also uses it to make hormones and can be used as an energy source (it’s a bit of an all rounder). After a workout, it’s the protein in your body, that repairs those muscles and helps speed up recovery (which is good if you’ve had a hard leg day). It also helps your muscles to grow, which is why bodybuilders up their protein intake.

Where can I get protein from?

There are about 20 amino acids found in plant and animal proteins which we need to make our bodies work perfectly. Some of these we actually make within our bodies, but 8 of them we can only get from food and that’s why it’s so important to have protein in your diet. Protein comes from various sources, including meat, fish, eggs, nuts, pulses and dairy products. All these sources have different ‘biological values’ and is why the quality of the protein is also important.

Animal sources have a protein pattern which is like that of a human cell and so they are the easiest way to consume the full range of amino acids needed from just one source. They have higher biological value than plant protein.

However that’s not to say you have to eat meat, of course you don’t! You can get all the protein you need from a plant based diet, you may need to just be slightly more aware of what you eat. Different proteins tend to compliment each other, so one form of protein may have a few amino acids and another form would have a few different ones in. So, if you are plant based, it’s recommended to eat two sources of protein in one meal, to compensate for any limitations that may be in only one source.

How much protein should we eat?

Generally you need around 0.6g of protein per kg of bodyweight for an average person. If you are trying to increase muscle mass then this should be upped to around 1.2-1.7g of protein per kg of bodyweight. It’s important to have something protein rich post workout to help your body recover properly, that’s why many people choose to have a protein shake after a workout.

Protein foods tend to make people feel fuller, so including lean protein into your diet could help you stave off that hunger throughout the day and help you reach those goals.

At all the Underground Gym clubs, we have a wide variety of protein powders to help reach your protein goals, so why not have a look at our menu when you are next in. As always, if you need any help, advice, or recommendations, just give us a shout and we’d be happy to help.