Protein Supplements: Do you need them?

Contributing Writer: Michael Cameron

 

I was with a friend last week, talking about our diets and the challenges that I face with mine. Carbs, no carbs, low fat, high fat, and a million other variations were passed between us. Eventually we began discussing protein supplements and whether or not I should be using them. My friend, Rob Sinclair of Cross Fit Solid Ground, has a wealth of experience in the area of health and nutrition. Besides owning a Cross Fit gym, he also has a B. Sc. in Biology with a minor in Exercise Science, is a certified personal trainer, as well as a nutrition and wellness specialist, so when he speaks, I listen. For him, it is very simple – “Know your protein requirements, figure out if you’re meeting them and if you have a protein deficiency, then you should be taking some type of protein supplement,” he said.

Rob went on further to explain that my body uses protein to build and repair tissues and to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is ultimately an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. He said if I wasn’t getting enough of it, my body wouldn’t be able to function properly and I may experience the following:

  • Food cravings,
  • Muscle and joint pain,
  • Slow recovery from injuries,
  • Fluid retention,
  • Regular illness
  • A cloudy mind

So, how much protein does a person need? The average person needs about .8 g of protein for 1 kg of body weight but there are certain exceptions and in fact, certain groups of people are susceptible to not meeting those needs, resulting in protein deficiencies. Check out the following categories below:

  • The elderly. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at processing our food.
  • Many sports require levels of high energy, strength and muscle.  Protein plays a key role in that relationship.
  • If you’re injured or ill, you need about 1.5 times your regular protein requirements to recover.
  • If you are stressed, you breakdown muscle and tissue faster than if you weren’t.
  • People that try to lose weight and cut calories.

Now I know how much I need and I know why I need it, but how do I figure out if I’m getting enough protein in my diet? I learned there are great meal tracking options to figure out if you are getting enough protein (I like myfitnesspal.com). If you use one and figure out that you’re not getting enough protein, there are a lot of really great options for increasing your protein intake. For instance, eating more whole foods (meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables) and fewer processed foods (carbs and sugars), minimizing stress by learning how to meditate or manage your anxiety through other means and finally, if you don’t like traditional sources of protein like meats, soy, peas, grains, then taking a protein supplement.

Contributing Writer, Michael Cameron is a martial artist and avid sports enthusiast who loves to spend time with his family, as well as write about sports and recreation in his spare time.

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