Does this protein make my butt look big??
Let me guess, when you think protein you picture one of two things: Arny looking big, bulky and super muscly, or Regina George after she had one too many Kalteen bars - "trackpants are all that fit me me right now." Well, I'm here to tell you to think again wild child! Protein is a friend, not a foe, and when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle it can have you looking more like Adriana (Lima) and not so much like the Terminator.
I'm thinking more "baby got back" and less "I'll be back!".
Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. In order to understand how protein can work for you, we first need to understand what it is. The human body requires 3 macronutrients in order to function properly:
- Lipids (aka fat)
Protein is a macronutrient that is a part of almost every cell in your body - hair, skin, eyes, muscles and organs are all made from protein. It's necessary for building, maintaining and repairing body tissues, as well as helping you maintain a healthy weight and curbing your hunger. However, unlike the other macronutrients, your body doesn't store protein (but it stores fat like a boss amiright?!). This means it doesn't have a back up supply to draw on when you're running low so it is important that you regularly replenish your protein reserves.
So, how does protein help you get that bangin' bod you've been working towards without making you look like you've got more muscles than your body can handle?
There is a common misconception that protein, and protein powder in particular, is only for men and women who are aiming to bulk up and increase muscle mass. While you might see a lot of body builders chugging back those protein shakes before, during or after their workouts, they're not doing it because it makes them bulky - lifting lots of weights all the time while eating massive amounts of calories will do that. Protein is the building block of the body and is vital in the maintenance, development and repair of body tissue - this makes it especially necessary after strenuous exercise. In addition, protein is known to keep you feeling fuller for longer, which means you'll eat less throughout the day, meaning more glutes and less gluttony.
By developing and repairing body tissues, protein helps to keep your muscles in check while your body burns fat, keeping you lean and toned! (Side note: it also helps with maintaining healthy hair and skin #winning).
Of course, just stocking up on protein won't get you to where you need to be, as always, there can be too much of a good thing - except for when it comes to doughnuts, you can never have too many doughnuts. But I digress. Most people need around 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight - and this is before we factor in any other diet and lifestyle factors. As a general rule of thumb, you should increase your protein intake by 1.2-1.5 grams as you increase your exercise levels. Likewise, if you're cutting calories as part of a weight management plan, increasing your protein intake slightly helps give your body the nutrients it requires. Adriana and her fellow Victoria's Secret Angels, including Australia's own Shanina Shaik, know the importance of protein for their bodies and their health and make sure it is part of their regular daily routines. The Angels also tend to increase their protein intake, in addition to exercising more aggressively, in the lead up to the big Victoria's Secret show.
I'm fairly certain I've just let Victoria's secret out of the bag...
So there you have it. Protein = your new best friend! Not only is it an important part of you being a functioning homo sapien, it helps keep your body in check while you exercise or make other dietary changes, keeps your skin and hair glowing and can have you looking lean and toned. Or, in other words, protein can have you looking more like Ms Shaik and less like Ms Shrek!