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Are you wasting protein (and money) by using too much?

You could well be.

Protein Shakes are sexy, eggs are not.
Protein Shakes are sexy, eggs are not.
Image: Shutterstock/Sea Wave

PROTEIN IS ESSENTIAL for growth and daily repair of your body’s cells and how much you need increases as you get older – but only up to a point.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how much you should consume as that’ll depend on your lifestyle, your age and how active you are.

For example, while an elite male bodybuilder might need up to 3.2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight a female endurance athlete might need less than half this amount. Yes, male and female requirements vary quite dramatically.

Figures quoted by International Society of Sports Nutrition say for someone hoping to build muscle they should take a gram of protein for every pound (.45 kilos) of body weight.

So, a 13-stone player, equivalent to 182lbs or 82.5kg, would need to take 182 grams of protein per day.

These amounts can be met by a well-balanced diet and sources of this macronutrient include red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, yoghurts and nuts.

In fact, for the sake of our 13-stone player, that exact amount is three eggs, 50g of smoked salmon, two tins of tuna and three turkey breasts (82g). Impossible? We think not.

More protein isn’t necessarily better for you, however, but it’s hardly surprising sports nutrition companies will be slow to tell you this.
They’ll tell you to take more, but you don’t need it. But those drinks are so damn tasty.

Among the big sports nutrition companies in this country are MaxiNutrition Ltd., USN Ireland, Holland & Barrett and Kinetica Sports Ltd. and they’ve all posted pretty significant growth of around 7-9% since 2012.

Avonmore have tapped into this incessant demand recently and now sell Protein Milk which purports to have 50% more protein than regular milk.

Wexford-based ‘Paganini’ are another such company who launched a protein ice-cream called ‘Fit Fuel’, which contains 20g of whey protein per tub, underling the point that the demand for protein, it appears, knows no bounds.

But do we need it all? The short answer is no. Here’s why.

Bord Bia, the Irish food board, say “a standard portion of eggs (two eggs) provides nearly one third of the daily protein required by an average woman and almost one quarter of an average man’s requirement while a 100g portion of pork provides you with about half of the protein you need in the day.”

So, while body builders, athletes and some people trying to lose weight may enjoy multiple protein shakes/bars and powders per day, much of it is wasted since your body can only absorb so much at a time; between 5-9 grams an hour is the current accepted amount.

Whatever is left over is either used for energy, turned to fat to store for later use or excreted. Most people get plenty of protein through their regular diet.

So, is your post-workout shake with 50 grams of protein a waste? Well that all depends on if you’re getting enough protein elsewhere.

Protein shakes are sexy. Eggs aren’t.

Of course, if you’re a vegan the situation changes because that reduces your options dramatically, but there’s still no shortage of foodstuffs on the shopping aisles packed with protein.

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Brian Canty

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