Protein: How Much Protein Does Our Body Really Need? (Die Welt, Germany)

Protein: How Much Protein Does Our Body Really Need? (Die Welt, Germany)
Protein: How Much Protein Does Our Body Really Need? (Die Welt, Germany)

Video: Protein: How Much Protein Does Our Body Really Need? (Die Welt, Germany)

Video: Protein: How Much Protein Does Our Body Really Need? (Die Welt, Germany)
Video: 3 Myths About High-Protein Diets Debunked | Jose Antonio, PhD 2023, March

Anyone who wants to be slim, strong and healthy should do the following: consume more protein. It is not only fitness clubs that inspire their customers, where protein powder and protein bars are included in the "assortment" along with dumbbells and exercise machines. A huge selection of real protein "bombs" is also offered to customers by supermarkets and pharmacies.

But that's not all: along with protein powders and all kinds of dietary products, we are increasingly encountering modified traditional foods: bread and muesli enriched with proteins, pasta made from protein-rich lentils or chickpeas (at the same time containing less carbohydrates than regular pasta). Even “protein-rich sausages” have appeared on the market under the slogan: “The most different sausages in the world”.

All this can be called a complete misunderstanding, because most Germans already consume more protein than the professional community advises. However, their advice concerns, first of all, the task of eliminating protein deficiency in humans. But food these days has to be more than just food. Choosing the right food should prevent obesity, and ideally even contribute to the "self-optimization" of the body.

A man needs protein

Therefore, active research is currently underway with the aim of calculating the optimal dose of proteins for humans. Nutritionists have talked about the benefits and dangers of fats and carbohydrates for a long time, and now many of them have devoted their research to the third main nutrient.

There is no arguing that proteins are the basis of everything: muscles, organs, enzymes, hormones - they all consist of protein. Its share is constantly growing and decreasing. Cells “lay down” protein molecules into “building blocks” - 20 different amino acids - and reassemble them again. Thus, the human body processes 300 grams daily. At the same time, we must feed primarily on proteins in order to compensate for the losses that our body incurs - the loss of hair, dead skin particles or secretions - and to ensure growth.

In theory, normal nutrition is enough to build real mountains of muscles. According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), an adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. That is, 60 grams will be enough for a man weighing 75 kg - and this dose can be easily obtained, even as a vegetarian.

If a man needs big biceps, then with the most persistent training he will be able to independently increase about 10 kg of muscle mass in the first year. To do this, it will be enough for him to increase the daily dose of proteins by 6 grams, that is, by one chicken egg or two tablespoons of lentils. After that, growth will slow down and no additional protein is needed to maintain muscle mass.

Therefore, DGE is now opposing the protein "hype" with the results of studies, according to which there is no physiological reason for athletes in everyday life to receive additional doses of proteins in the form of special supplements.

“People with active lifestyles require more energy and eat more and automatically receive higher doses of protein,” says nutritionist Helmut Heseker of the University of Paderborn and a member of the DGE Science Presidium. Only older adults need an extra dose of protein to compensate for age-related muscle loss, he said.

However, this is unlikely to harm the market of protein products, since there is a great deal of research in this area, the results of which can be interpreted very broadly. For example, many experts argue that muscle and strength growth will accelerate if you take protein supplements after strength training. At the same time, scientists have long been trying to find an optimal recipe, and it is known that some amino acids actually contribute to muscle growth.

Proteins also play a major role in many dietary concepts. Their benefits are modest, but measurable: according to one meta-analysis, participants in a total of 24 studies over 12 weeks were able to lose an average of almost 800 grams more weight if their diet contained significant amounts of protein. This may be due to the fact that proteins contribute to the feeling of fullness and produce a small amount of pleasant warmth.

More important, perhaps, is the fact that many protein diets involve cocktails, making it easier for people to regulate their nutrition. In addition, some studies show that protein-rich diets slow down the "yo-yo effect" for at least some time after the diet is over.

No protein shortage

However, Helmut Hesecker is not inclined to succumb to the "protein" trend. According to him, "based on the results of research, it is impossible to make an unequivocal conclusion that powdered protein supplements have any advantage over the usual complete and balanced dairy meal." At the same time, the nutritionist was critical of marketers raising the hype around protein consumption. “Aggressive ads for protein drugs have stuck into the heads of many amateur athletes who believe that high amounts of protein can help build muscle,” he said.

The food industry plays an important role in this, he said. "In developed countries, there is no shortage of proteins, and sometimes they even turn into waste products." For example, in the production of cheese, whey remains, and in the extraction of oils, vegetable protein. "The hype around protein gives the food industry good opportunities to profitably sell protein powder that would otherwise simply go to animal feed."

Other experts, however, point to general health benefits of proteins. "Increased protein intake helps to better control weight and improve blood pressure," says Nikolai Worm, professor at the German Institute for Health Problems. According to him, the DGE should defend long-formulated theses and ignore the results of newer research. However, Worm, in general, considers the generalized recommendations ambiguous: "A man who already eats a large steak and a significant amount of cheese and sausage every day, of course, should not be advised to take additional proteins."

Scientists are conducting a lot of epidemiological studies trying to justify the importance of protein intake for health and mortality in the long term. However, the results of these studies are ambiguous and contradictory. “There is one big problem in dietetics: there is simply no clear evidence,” admits Nikolai Worm. He called the debate over the health benefits of proteins "snuffed out" because the difference in mortality between high and low protein intake is so negligible that it fits into statistical error.

At the same time, however, it can be stated that among people who consume a lot of plant proteins, mortality is still somewhat higher. However, this is most likely due not to the proteins themselves, but to the fact that most people do not consume them separately. Plants contain a lot of ballasts and vitamins, and people who consume a lot of plant foods are usually especially confident in their own health. In turn, a high consumption of meat is considered a sign of unhealthy eating behavior, and even lean meat is eaten by many in breadcrumbs or creamy sauce.

Be that as it may, a large amount of protein does not seem to do much harm - at least for people with healthy kidneys.

However, there are also alarming signals. So, biologists in the course of experiments on animals have found that proteins can influence the aging process. For example, mice and fruit flies lived longer on a diet low in carbohydrates. Deficiencies in certain amino acids have proven particularly important, including those marketed as drugs that stimulate muscle growth.

There is an explanation for this: amino acids activate the signaling system that has existed from time immemorial in all animals (and humans). “When you eat abundantly, the signal is for cell growth,” explained biologist Sebastian Grönke of the Max Planck Institute for Aging in Cologne. When a signal is received about a lack of proteins, a "recycling program" is triggered, causing a rejuvenating effect. “When deficient, the cell gets rid of damaged or improperly stored proteins that can harm the body in the long term,” explained Grönke. So it cannot be ruled out that growth stimulation is associated with an accelerated aging process.

Whether experiments on fruit flies can be considered applicable to humans is, of course, a moot point. But, as is often the case in nutritional research, it can be stated that food is a matter of taste.

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