Protein: an overview

PROTEIN is derived from the greek word ‘protos’ meaning first, since protein is the basic material of all living cells.  Protein diets, protein shakes, protein powders……..what’s all the fuss about?


What is protein?

Protein is found in all the cells of the body from the hair to the fingernails, which explains why 20-25% of our body weight is protein.  It is required for growth and repair of tissue, hence it’s association with muscle.  It also helps to create enzymes that enable us to digest food, antibodies  to fight infection and hormones that keep the body working properly.  Protein can also be converted to energy when the body is running low.


Amino Acids

Once eaten, protein is gradually digested in the body into much smaller proteins call amino acids.  There are 25 different types of amino acid, 17 of which can be made naturally by the body.  The other 8 amino acids must therefore be eaten in the diet.  These 8 aptly named `essential` amino acids can be used like building blocks to form any of the other 17 amino acids.


How much protein do we need?

Daily protein intake of around 1g per KG of body weight is adequate for most people (for example someone weighing 70kg would require around 70g of protein per day).  This amounts to around 15-20% of total calorie intake.  In sports performance protein plays an important part in growth and recovery and is therefore required in higher amounts.


Bodybuilders may consume anywhere between 200-400g  of protein per day, although this is the extreme end of the scale!  There still remains diversity among nutritionists with quite varied .recommended intakes   Between 1.5g  and 2.5g per KG of body weight is generally adequate even for top athletes.


  • If we consume enough calories, then we will get enough protein unless our diet is high in sugar and fat.
  • Too little protein will clearly impair performance and recovery, leading to loss of lean tissue.
  • On the other end of the scale, beware excess protein puts a strain on the liver and kidneys


Quality not quantity

Protein content is high in meat, fish, eggs, pulses, dairy products, nuts and

seeds.  Animal sources tend to account for 60-70% of the protein intake and

although meat, particularly red meat is an excellent source of protein, it is

high in saturated fat bringing with it negative health factors.  Beans on the

other hand may only contain 50% protein but the remaining calories come

from slow release carbohydrates and no fat!!


The way forward

Try to vary your protein sources and don’t rely on meat too heavily.  Eggs are the most complete protein source, containing a range of vitamins and minerals as well.   Cottage cheese is a great natural source due to its value and anti cancer properties.  Oily fish, nuts and seeds are other great options – high in protein as well as essential fatty acids which bring many health benefits.



25 Top tips for weight loss

Here are 25 simple top tips for ultimate weight loss.  Sometimes we simply need reminding of the basics!

  1. Eat larger meals earlier in the day and smaller meals later in the day.
  2. Don’t overeat.  Whatever you don’t burn is stored as fat.
  3. Get active on most or all days of the week.
  4. Stay away from simple sugars like sweets, chocolate and cakes.
  5. Ensure you are well hydrated as poor hydration can limit fat burning potential.
  6. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, high in fibre and water.
  7. Exercise regularly. It boosts metabolism and fat burning potential.
  8. Stop kidding yourself!
  9. Avoid saturated fats.  Essential fats found in oily fish, nuts and seeds are much better.
  10. Dieting doesn’t work. The results are short term with negative long term effects.
  11. Have a qualified body fat test done or use clothes sizes.  The scales never tell the full story.
  12. Limit alcohol due to its high calorie content.
  13. Exercise, but make sure you’re at the right level.
  14. Eat 5-6 smaller meals every day.  (graze as opposed to binge!)
  15. Train with weights to boost metabolism.
  16. Fight fat with fibre.  It keeps you full, keeping hunger at bay and also helps to control blood sugar levels.
  17. Never miss breakfast.  We need to boost metabolism and energy levels for the day.
  18. Watch what you consume when eating out.  Go for the healthier options as far as possible and look out for alcohol and desserts.
  19. Drink plenty of water, particularly with meals.
  20. You are looking to lose weight not muscle so eat plenty of protein rich foods.
  21. Eat slowly.  It takes 20 minutes for the brain to realize you are full.  Eating quickly causes overeating and is a strain on the digestive system.
  22. Ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals.  Eating a well balanced diet will help massively and you may want to consider a decent multivitamin.
  23. Eat less calories than you burn!
  24. Set realistic goals and aim to lose no more than 2lb / 0.8kg a week.
  25. If you want something badly enough it’s as good as yours – go get it!!

Sports Nutrition – eating before exercise

What we eat in the lead up to an all important workout or even competition is essential.  A good meal leaves us full of energy that lasts as long as comfortable.  Get the pre training meal wrong and it can be catastrophic.  Here we will look at some theory behind whats best and offer some ideas.

Slow release is best


In fact, slow release is best for most of us, most of the time.  Foods releasing energy slowly keep us fuller and more energized on a regular basis.  An hour workout can be quite demanding so sustained release here is essential.

Timing, timing, timing

General advice is a larger meals 3-4 hours before or smaller meals 1-2 hours before exercise.  We also need to consider the content of the meal that has been consumed to how long to leave it.  Higher fat or protein meals take longer to release.  This can be used to our advantage, by adding higher fat or protein foods to pre workout meals, we create a sustained release!

Foods to try

Don’t change anything too drastically, stick to normal choices.  Porridge is perfect in the mornings, though you need an hour or 2 for it to digest.  Your normal lunch or dinner will work just fine. A mix of carbs (rice or vegetables) with protein (meat, fish, beans or eggs) works well.

Add plenty of carbs for energy, but also some protein in there.  Presence of amino acids (small protein units) in the body has a good link to better performance and recovery.

Coffee is also a favourite among many within an hour of training for that extra kick!

In case of emergencies

It’s the final hour,  you are really stuck, sat in meetings all day or in the car grab some fruit juice, dried fruit, or sports drink with plenty of water (and coffee).  This can often be much better than nothing.

It’s kinda personal 

This is a personal thing as to what works best.  It is worth using the guidelines above but experimenting with what food types and timing work the best for you.  Some people prefer a large meal, others can barely stomach a banana, so see be willing to test..


We work from BourneFit Personal Training Studio in Bournemouth, offering a professional service including Personal Training, Weight Loss and Sports Massage.  Visit us at