Sunday 17 December 2017

Siobhan Byrne - take the protein that your body needs

Grilled Atlantic salmon with an avocado and tomato salsa. Delicious healthy eating.
Grilled Atlantic salmon with an avocado and tomato salsa. Delicious healthy eating.

Siobhan Byrne

There has been much discussion about protein over the years and one thing that has come out is the importance of protein for the body, especially for maintenance of body composition. I'm going to discuss some of the pros of protein and the different ways to get your protein in, including supplementation and food sources.

1 Protein is one of the most important macro nutrients (the others being fats and carbs) and are the building blocks of the human body. It builds and repairs bones, muscle, hair and nails.

2 Meat-based protein sources are high in iron, especially important for teenage girls and women in their child bearing years who can suffer from iron deficiencies.

3 A protein rich diet maintains a better bone density compared to a higher carbohydrate diet protecting against osteoporosis and osteopenia.

4 Greater strength gains from training with a higher protein diet.

5 Protein rich meals slows digestion and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

6 Protein rich diets burn more fat compared to low calorie and high carbohydrate diets.

7 Fish is high in low fat quality protein and unsaturated fats making it a vital choice at least once a week.

8 Vegetarian protein sources like spinach, beans, pulses, lentils, peas and superfood grains like wholegrain couscous and quinoa, are also great ways to get your protein needs in along with also being packed full of other important vitamins and minerals.

9 There is a risk of raising your cholesterol if you have too much protein containing large amounts of saturated fat so choose lean low fat protein sources.

10 Higher protein diets are a health risk for people already suffering from kidney problems.

Vegetarian protein sources:

Spirulina (the best protein source on the planet)


Beans and pulses

Peas and chickpeas



Wholegrain couscous


Soy based protein powder

Brown rice protein powders (Sun warier)

Hemp protein powders


As protein (amino acids) are the building blocks for our muscles, it's essential we get good sources of protein into our diets, this can be taken from either natural foods or through supplements in the form of protein powders.

Meat sources of protein include lean red meat, poultry, fish and eggs. While chickpeas, beans, oats and lentils also provide our bodies with good quality protein. Ideally we want to get 1-1.5g of protein per kilogram of body weight, for example a person weighing 70kg would need approximately 70g of protein a day. This would equate to having oats and egg whites at breakfast, chicken with chickpeas or beans at lunch and a lean source of meat at dinner.

It's very important that we get some form of protein into every meal and ideally every snack. When struggling with getting this amount of protein in supplements may be useful.

There are many types of protein powders available, you may see words like whey/casein or vegan friendly so it can be difficult to know which to go for.

The difference between whey and casein types of protein is that whey is released quickly into our bodies, this is useful after training when we want to get protein into our working muscles as soon as possible after a workout.

After a resistance training session our muscle fibres tear, by eating a source of protein quickly (less than two hours following a session) this will help the repair process of the damaged muscle fibres. We want these tears to happen as over time the cycle of damage and repair is what causes us to get stronger. In comparison, casein protein can be useful before going to bed as it is released slowly into our systems.

When looking for protein supplements we want about 20-25g of protein per serving and as little amount of sugars as possible. This is roughly the equivalent of a chicken breast or salmon fillet.

Nxsportsnutrition, phd pharma whey and optimum nutrition gold standard all provide this. For casein protein Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100pc casein provides the slow release as discussed earlier. For vegan friendly options Sun warrior is a great option.


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