Protein protein protein. We’re obsessed with it. Brands are sneaking it into our crisps, our cakes, our chocolate bars – it really is everywhere. But is this obsession justified, how much protein do we really need?
What is it?
Protein is essential for the body to grow and repair – our digestive system breaks it down into amino acids (the body’s building blocks) and absorbs it, before the liver sorts out which amino acids we need. The rest is flushed out in our urine.
Not getting enough protein can cause some pretty serious ill effects; hair loss, skin breakouts, muscle mass decrease and weight loss. This typically only presents in people with eating disorders and is very rare. Similarly, too much protein can be dangerous as well; back in 1928 Artic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson set out to spend a year eating only lean meat. He quickly gave himself “protein poisoning” which resolved when he reintroduced fats.
So with both extremes of protein consumption dangerous, where is the middle ground? What SHOULD we be doing? Fortunately, data is on our side. There are clear Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) figures, that set out the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. For protein, this amounts to a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, rising to around 1.2 g/kg for those who are particularly active.
Wait, but I train, like, a lot, my muscles need protein.
The evidence isn’t as cut and dry as the protein companies would have us believe – no surprise! A 2014 analysis of 36 papers found that protein supplements have no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the first few weeks of resistance training in untrained individuals. There were, however, benefits to recovery and growth in muscle mass as training intensity and time increases. The best results were found when protein was combined with a fast acting carbohydrate – i.e. as food, not a supplement!
In other words, for a typical healthy 30 year old woman who hits SoulCycle a couple of times a week, 45 grams of protein per day should do the trick. And – this is the good news – our everyday Arabella (non-vegan) is averaging 64g of protein per day which, as it stands, far exceeds her minimum requirements. Dairy, meat, eggs, nuts, beans even some veg – they all contain protein and it adds up. If you are particularly conscious of getting more, or getting some within a window after training, then consuming it as part of a real food rather than an isolated macro nutrient may well be a better approach.
Those on a vegan diet do need to be a little more conscious of their protein intake, as its not as abundant in plant based sources.That said, tofu, nuts, peas, beans – even pasta are all sources – supplementation shouldn’t necessary at all. Where it is, there’s really no reason to get more than 20g in any one serving – there’s evidence that suggests any more than this is simple excreted.
What about weight loss? A high protein diet can support with weight loss, often because protein is more satiating for lower calorie intake than other macro groups – ie. you feel fuller for longer if you eat 100 kCals of eggs than if you ate 100 kCals of sweets. That said – its important to balance this with ensuring you’re getting all the micronutrients and phytochemicals found in fruit & veg.
Where do FOGA come in? All plantshakes with black bottom halves have some pea protein in them – about 5-6g in each. This matches the amount of protein found in natural plant protein sources like Peas – which have about the same amount per 100 calories. By mimicking nature, we’re hoping to create products that our bodies process as normal food – not as overwhelming supplements.
Excluding milk, our Peanut & Coffee boasts 6 grams, Strawberry & Banana has 4.7g, and our zingy Berry & Beetroot comes in at 5.3g. The only thing you need to worry about is picking your favourite flavour. Hit get started to start your FOGA journey and filling up with essential protein by drinking our flavoursome, creamy Plantshakes.