There’s a reason protein is nicknamed the body’s ‘building block’. Not only is it an integral component of every single cell in your body, protein is essential for optimal body composition (yes, we’re talking muscle mass). Whether your goal is toning, cutting, building muscle or you play intense sport or just like keeping active – you’ll require the amino acids found within protein to recover and to build muscle. Let’s take a closer look at why.

So, what exactly is protein?
As we’ve discussed previously, protein is one of the three macronutrients (macro meaning large) you need to maintain a healthy body. The others are fat and carbohydrates. Proteins are actually made up of amino acids which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different kinds of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein and these fall into two main categories. Firstly, essential amino acids. These are the ones your body can’t manufacture and so have to be acquired from food. The nine essential amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, histidine, lysine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and valine.

Then there’s nonessential amino acids, which your body makes for itself. To get an idea of the importance of protein – it’s present in every single cell in your body and is the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin and hormones. Your body needs protein to maintain and repair tissues, support your immune systems and for overall wellbeing. Protein is found in foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and dairy products and also in many popular supplements and sports bars.

How much protein do you need, in general terms?
The protein we consume in our diet is broken down and helps to maintain metabolism and muscle mass. Unlike fats and carbs, protein isn’t stored, so needs to be consumed on a daily basis, with Australian Dietary Guidelines recommending you eat two to three serves a day.
While requirements change as you age and can differ depending on weight, gender, and activity levels, protein should ideally make up 15–20 per cent of your daily energy intake.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that men up to the age of 70-years eat around 64g of protein per day to stay healthy and women up to the age of 70, 46g (unless you’re pregnant or breastfeeding).

Protein, exercise and body building goals
Protein is vital in sports performance so if you’re involved in exercise, you’re going to need a little more than the standard recommendations. Not only has this macronutrient been found to boost glycogen storage, but when you exercise you’re effectively tearing and breaking muscle fibres apart, which then need to be repaired by the body. This requires protein (your aching muscles will love you).

If you’re an endurance or strength athlete looking to gain muscle mass, your protein needs can increase up to 1.7g per kg of your body weight per day. And timing of protein consumption is also important, particularly in the recovery period after training when it’s recommended you consume around 15–25g of protein alongside some carbohydrates. Different proteins will provide specific benefits, for example whey protein isolate (WPI) such as INC 100% WPI in chocolate or vanilla flavour digests quickly and is best post workout (it comes power-loaded with BCAA’s and other essential amino acids).

Whey protein concentrate (WPC) digests at a slower rate and is more suited for between meals or prior to training. To optimise recovery, it’s a good idea to consume protein before bed, to increase muscle-protein synthesis while you sleep. INC Micellar Casein, available in chocolate and vanilla flavours, is a slow release protein which supplies amino acids to the muscles throughout the night, contributing to growth and repair. Add one and a half scoops to water or low fat milk for a delicious pre-bedtime drink that will get to work while you slumber!

We’ve got you covered
At INC, an Australian-owned company, we understand the link between training and nutrition in helping to achieve your optimal fitness goals and it’s our mission to make the highest quality sports supplements affordable to all.

Best of all, our products are Informed Sports Certified – meaning that you can train knowing you’re putting something into your body which has passed a rigorous certification process. Whether you’re hitting the gym, going for a run, playing ultimate Frisbee or involved in any other sort of exercise – we’ve got your protein needs covered.