Protein Explained - How Much Should I Eat?

What is protein? How much should I eat to gain muscle mass & why is it important for our bodies? This week we were lucky to have top nutritional therapist and health coach, Michelle Boehm BComm, DipION to explain more!

Why are proteins important?

Your organs, tissues, muscles and hormones are all made from proteins. Proteins are used by every part of the body to develop, grow and function properly, from our skin and hair to our digestive enzymes and immune system antibodies. Proteins are constantly being broken down and must be replaced. Therefore, it’s important to consume high protein foods every day in each meal.

What are proteins?

Proteins are long chains of amino acids, which are essential molecules for all metabolic processes. The body can make some amino acids on its own and relies on food to obtain “essential” amino acids.

What happens when you consume too little protein?

Eating a wide range of foods high in protein is important to prevent the risk of deficiencies in certain amino acids. If you struggle with the following, it may mean you’re not consuming sufficient protein:

  • Low energy
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irregular blood sugar levels
  • Weight issues
  • Trouble building muscle mass
  • Poor sleep
  • Low immunity
  • Trouble concentrating or “brain fog”
  • Slow wound healing
  • Flatulence
  • Constipation
  • A sluggish metabolism

How much protein is too much & how what is the recommended intake?

Try to avoid intakes of more than twice the recommended intake as this can have detrimental effects on bones and kidneys, but the evidence isn't conclusive.

The recommended intake(RI) of protein is 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight per day. To calculate your average daily amount of protein required, multiply your body weight in kg by 0.75. For example, the approximate RI of protein for someone weighing 63kg (10 stone) is 50g of protein per day.

Everyone is different!

It is important to note that RI is designed to meet the minimum requirements of the body and is not necessarily optimal for all of us. Higher protein intakes can be helpful for individuals training regularly, those wanting to build muscle or even those who want to lose weight as protein can help a person stay fuller for longer.

If you are trying to build muscle, there are many recommendations for the ideal amount of protein required from numerous studies. It is widely accepted that between 1.6-2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight is required to add sufficient muscle mass. Try to start with 1.6g to assess your progress and slowly increase this if you need to.

What sources of protein should I eat?

Vary these as much as possible and try and avoid processed sources as these can lead to health issues. Also, do not swap complex carbohydrates for protein as this can lead to constipation due to the lack of fibre. Here are our go-to sources:

  • Grass-fed meat
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Free-range eggs
  • Free-range poultry (chicken or turkey)
  • Dairy

    Sources for vegans

    • Peas
    • Nuts
    • Lentils
    • Seeds
    • Quinoa
    • Chickpeas
    • Beans

    Here are two high protein meals to try:

    1. Vegan salad with quinoa

    Preparation time - 10 minutes

    Cooking time - 15 minutes

    Serves - 2

    What you'll need...

    80g kidney beans

    80g avocado

    Half a red onion

    50g tomato

    50g corn

    80g quinoa

    1 garlic clove

    Ground black pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste

    To prepare...

    1. Chop the avocado, tomatoes and onions

    2. Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions

    3. Lay the ingredients out like the picture

    4. Top with the garlic, pepper, vinegar and oil


    1. Beef Chilli Con Carne

    Preparation time - 10 minutes

    Cooking time - 30 minutes to 1 hour

    Serves - 4

    What you'll need...

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    2 small red onions, chopped

    2 garlic cloves, chopped

    2 red chillies, chopped

    500g organic, grass-fed beef mince

    150ml red wine

    400g organic carton tomatoes, chopped

    400g organic carton red kidney beans, rinsed

    100g butternut cubed (optional)

    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped

    To prepare...

    1. Cook the onion, garlic and chillies with olive oil for 2 minutes on a medium heat

    2. Add in the mince and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring continuously

    3. Pour in the red wine and 1 cup water, simmer for 3 minutes

    4. Add in the remaining ingredients

    5. Depending on how much time you have, simmer (covered with a lid) for 30 minutes/ 1 hour

    6. Serve with brown rice, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

    Michelle provides Nutritional Therapy & Health Coaching around the world. She holds sessions via Skype or in her Mayfair, London UK clinic. Michelle can be found on Instagram here & her website is below:




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