What is it?
Simply put Proteins are the building blocks of life, the body uses them to repair and maintain itself and is mainly used by the body to repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy. When protein is digested, amino acids are left and the body needs a number of amino acids to break down food. Proteins also belong to the nutrient group of macronutrients alongside Carbohydrates and Fats.
Place in the diet
If you are following the eat well guide, Protein and meats are recommended to account for 12% of your daily intake with the remaining percentages consisting of 40% fruit and veg, 38% carbs, 8% dairy and 1% oils and spreads. An example mealtime could consist of roughly
¼ plate carbs, ¼ protein and ½ fruit/veg. Ideally, protein should be a part of each meal consumed.
The NHS reference intakes suggest that women should aim to consume 45g of protein a day and that males should aim to consume 55g of protein a day and the department of health advises us that we shouldn’t consume more than twice the recommended daily intake. These reference intakes however are a general guideline and will vary between individuals.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggest intakes as the following
Activity Type Grams of Protein per KG of bodyweight
Sedentary Adult 0.8g/kg
Recreational Adult Exerciser 0.8-1.5g/kg
Adult Endurance Athlete 1.2-1.6g/kg
Growing Teenage Athlete 1.5-2.0g/kg
Adult Building Mass 1.5-1.7g/kg
Estimated upper limits (Adults) 2.0g.kg
It’s important to note that there are varying amounts and it may take time to find what works best for you as an individual depending on what your goals are. When looking to gain weight, taking more protein than usual can help to build muscle, whereas when losing weight sometimes we may opt for more protein high foods as protein can leave us feeling fuller for longer, protein also provides 4 calories per gram (carbohydrates also provide 4 calories per gram) whereas fats contain 9 calories per gram.
Ultimately these shakes can provide protein, however it may be easier and cheaper to simply add more protein sources to your diet as these would provide the same benefits and potentially save you money. If this isn’t possible and you do opt for protein shakes, check the label for sugar and fat content as protein powders can be made up of a range of macronutrients and may not be just purely protein. Please also note that using them as a meal replacement may seem like a quick fix, you wouldn’t necessarily be getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals that you would from a healthy balanced meal.
Protein Rich Foods
Red meat such as beef, lamb or pork
White meat such as chicken or turkey
Pulses such as lentils, chickpeas, garden peas, beans
Nuts and seeds, especially chia seeds
Eggs, milk, yoghurt, and cottage cheese
Brown and wild rice
Vegetables - asparagus, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, artichokes, kale, spinach, sweetcorn
To summarise, protein plays an important role in the diet but it is advised not to have more than double the recommended intakes. Your protein intake will vary based on your activity level and your goals and is different for the individual so it’s about finding what works best for you.
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The information and advice within this blog are not intended to replace any medical advice, with all our clients we seek to address their individual needs and circumstances - this includes any adaptations required for long- or short-term health conditions and medications. Please seek medical advice if you have any health conditions before considering a lifestyle change. If you would like to address any of the content of this blog, please email us
IQ, A. (2018). The Principles and key guidelines of exercise nutrition. In A. IQ, Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral (pp. 62-66). Active IQ.
NHS. (2021, 05 11). Bodybuilding and sports supplements: the facts. Retrieved from NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/body-building-sports-supplements-facts/
NHS. (2021, 05 11). Reference Intakes Explained. Retrieved from NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/what-are-reference-intakes-on-food-labels/
NHS. (2021, 05 11). The Eat Well Guide. Retrieved from NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-eatwell-guide/