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42: Get to Know Your Macros - Protein

Apr 28, 2020

Contrary to what those guys on Reddit say, eating a ton of protein isn’t the secret to a healthy diet. In fact, too much protein can just turn into fat. Nutrition expert Thunder Jalili joins the Who Cares guys to explain what exactly a protein is, what it does for your body, and just how much you really need to be eating.

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Episode Transcript

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Protein is an Important Building Block

Macronutrients or "macros" as you may have heard online are the compounds in our foods that we need to eat a large amount of every day. These macros are fats, carbs, and protein. There are a lot of misconceptions about macronutrients. There are plenty of articles out there making claims about these three macros and how much you should or should not be eating. To help us sort through all the noise, we've brought back nutrition specialist Thunder Jalili to speak about each of these macros in a series we're calling Get to Know Your Macros.

In this episode, we're focusing on protein. What it is, and what it does for your body.

Let's start with the basics. When we eat protein, our digestive system breaks proteins into amino acids. Amino acids are the basic building blocks your cells use to assemble all sorts of compounds and proteins the body needs. For example, amino acids make up connective tissue, muscle fibers, antibodies, as well as enzymes and hormones.

You Don't Need to Eat That Much Protein

As men, it seems like every muscle building diet plan you find online focuses heavily on getting a lot of protein every day. Producer Mitch was even doing a plan last summer he found online that was having him eat well over 300 grams of protein every day to help him grow muscle.

According to Thunder, the average person needs a whole lot less protein than that to be healthy and grow muscle. He shares a simple equation he uses for everyone except the most elite of athletes.

(Body weight (in pounds) / 2.2) x 1.2 grams = the number of grams of daily protein

For example, Troy is a pretty active guy and he weighs 155 pounds. According to Thunder's math, Troy only needs around 85 grams of protein every day.

85 grams of protein is a whole lot easier to consume than the amount Mitch was trying to choke down on the plan he found on Reddit. While he was seeing some results, he felt miserable and his food budget was expensive.

More Protein Doesn't Mean More Muscle

In spite of the diet plans you see online, eating extra protein every day does not mean that protein goes directly into more muscle growth. In fact, eating extra protein may set you back in your fitness goals. Consuming a large excess of protein increases the total amount of calories you consume in a day, and your body does have a mechanism to turn all that unused protein into fat if conditions are right.

Even a high functioning competitive tri-athlete may need only 2 grams per kilogram of body weight every day during training. But for guys like that, it only comes out to about 140-180 grams of protein a day, not the 300+ grams some forums insist on using.

Protein is Protein, but Plant Sources Have Bonus Benefits

According to Thunder, there is no fundamental difference in the way your body utilizes the protein found in animal products or plant sources. One the protein is broken down in the gut, your body will use those amino acids in the same way.

However, it's important to keep in mind that research has shown that a diet very high in animal-based protein may lead to a bevvy of chronic diseases. Meanwhile, plant-based protein sources have the added benefit of containing additional micronutrients and fiber that the animal protein does not.

Housekeeping - Who Cares About Mitch's Health 5k

The Who Cares About Mitch's Health Mid-May 5K has started. Morning of May 23rd at Sugarhouse park. Feel free to download a couch to 5k event and join the movement.

Just Going to Leave This Here

On this episode's Just Going to Leave This Here, Scot realizes how hard it is to leave the house without his phone and trendsetter Troy starts to wear workout clothes to work.

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