How Much Protein Should We Be Having Every Day?

By Francesca Cappozzo

After water, do you know what the main constituent of our body is?

Protein!

Protein has such important roles in the body, ranging from muscle growth and repair to creating hormones and enzymes that regulate the metabolism, support the immune system and much else. If, while reading that, you felt as though you need more protein than you are eating at the moment, then you are probably right.

An increasing number of studies suggests that increasing the amount of protein that we eat every day is the correct approach to improving our health. If you are sedentary (i.e. your job has you sitting for hours on end each day), then 0.8g per kg of body weight is generally enough. But most of us now participate in sports and physical activities, which is great! This means that to improve training adaptations, we need more.

If you run, cycle, swim or take part in endurance types of sports, then you should aim to have 1.2-1.4g per kilograms of body weight. For example, if you are a 60kg runner, that means circa 84g of protein per day. Strength- and power-based workouts such as bodybuilding, Muai Thai and Crossfit require even more protein, because the stress they place on muscles is higher and to heighten your power and get those ‘gainz’, you will need about 1.6-2g per kilograms of body weight per day. For mixed exercises, such as Pilates and yoga, I would stay on the upper end of 1.4 g.kg.bw per day. Also, if you are ‘older and wiser’, you will already be eating more protein to prevent sarcopenia, a very common phenomenon that occurs with ageing and increases the breakdown of protein, making you frailer. In these cases, at least 1.2g.kg.bw is key! And no; so far, there is no substantial evidence that too much protein can cause kidney problems.

Of course, I wouldn’t suggest you eat 90g of proteins in one sitting. Bear in mind that timing and quality are essential to getting all the benefits from proteins. Our bodies can absorb and use only about 20-25g every 2-3 hours, so spread these out throughout your meals and snacks. 20g of protein can be found in:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 600ml skimmed milk
  • 400g yoghurt
  • 70-100g meat, fish or chicken
  • 200g cottage cheese
  • 120g nuts – any unsalted, almonds contain the most
  • 70g crunchy peanut/almond butter
  • 1 x 240g (drained weight) canned chickpeas/kidney beans/lentils
  • 400g canned baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 60g halloumi/feta/mozzarella
  • 25-30g protein powder

Quality is important too. If you are thinking about increasing lean mass, then eating more absorbable protein with high leucine content (one of the famous BCAA, branch-chained amino acids) highly activates MTORC1, a gene regulator that triggers muscle growth. The highest leucine content can be found in whey (a milk protein), lean meat and eggs; and lower levels can be found in plant and nut proteins.

Protein = muscle? Yes; but it also equals brain function and support for the rest of your body, so keep ’em on your plate!

If you would like to know more about the latest studies on protein, many journals are available on the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) website. Otherwise, come and have a chat with me at Maître of Thyme!

Chew Your Way Out of Lazy Digestion

By Maija Kivelä

We all know that chewing our food properly aids digestion and helps to avoid bloating and gastric discomfort. But how often do we actually focus on the process of chewing while munching on the go? It’s almost counterintuitive, isn’t it. It definitely isn’t the first impulse when we are in the middle of our busy day, wolfing down a quick lunch or pick-me-up.

Are you counting your bites?

Don’t overthink it, but bring awareness to meal times.

Digestion begins with chewing. When you chew your food properly, your mouth and teeth break down larger pieces of food into ever-smaller particles. The abundance of saliva released contains digestive enzymes, which, while you chew your food, your body is also releasing in your stomach to help break everything down. Digestive enzymes and stomach acid only work on the surface of the pieces of food. Think: if you swallow a big piece of food, only its outermost surface will be available for your digestive enzymes and stomach acid to break down. Chewing your food for longer means a larger amount of its nutrients will be available for enzymes, absorption and ultimately, digestion.

Digestion is one of the body’s most energy-consuming processes, so it’s important to help it along from the moment you bring the nutrients in to your mouth. Processed foods are important to avoid (especially children)as the require much less chewing. The more you chew the better you are able to digest and the more you will absorb important nutrients. Chewing promotes growth and repair in the body.

How many times should you chew?

Well, you should know that there isn’t an exact number for all foods. A general rule of thumb for soft foods is to chew 5-10 times. For meat, vegetables and some fruits, it goes up to 30 times. 30 times sounds like a very long time! Eating steak can take a while; but it’s important to remember that eating good, healthy food is a pleasure — not a race. Think about nourishing your mind and body every time you grab something to eat, not just satisfying the hunger or emotions.

Save the drinks for later.

Drinking during meals slows down digestion considerably; but 30 minutes before or after eating doesn’t interrupt the system. It’s lovely to have a coffee for dessert and a small cup is absolutely fine. But too much caffeine straight after a meal can really speed up digestion, meaning that your body won’t be able to extract all the nutrients from the food. Coffee is also highly acidic, so having some straight after a meal can give you heart burn.

Always make time to sit down to eat.

Being on the go and making due with easy and readily available snacks is familiar to us all. Sure, it’s great to eat small frequent meals but it’s easy to forget those calories during proper meal times. Try to keep on-the-go snacking to a minimum, and make time for yourself to be able to sit down and enjoy your lunch slowly without any rush. Eating mindfully will promote effective digestion and prevent overeating.

Make your meal times special and enjoy nourishing your body!

—Namaste.

Holistic Living

By Maija Kivelä

Holistic living, as its name implies, regards everything as a whole. It promotes a lifestyle that focuses on the mind-body-spirit connection, the wellness of all our interconnected parts, and works towards the health of the entire self and not just one part of it.

‘Sickness’ transcends the physical. Holistic healing isn’t simply about restoring a balance of energy to the body after, say, a bad bout of the flu; but a constant effort to maintain health and harmony between mind and body. The body needs regular exercise, a balanced diet of proper nutritious food and enough rest to be able to function at its best through the everyday hustle and bustle. But a peaceful mind also needs good mental reinforcement, including tenacious positivity.

At school, we learned all about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’; but few of us learned how to live in a way that respects and nourishes the whole self, preparing us to maintain satisfying and fulfilling lives in spite of busy business environments and the cacophonous rat race that is city life.If you can train your mind and engage certain key muscles daily, you can transform your entire sense of wellbeing for the better. You will also find that all your relationships will benefit from your becoming more patient and understanding.

Embarking on a holistic lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to buy into any kind of spirituality or a particular school of thought, although there are some elements of spirituality to engage in should you feel so inclined. It’s more about harnessing a deep understanding of how your actions affect your body, mind and the people around you. Remember: living holistically takes time, consistency and awareness.

In honour of a new year and what for many certainly means starting on a fresh footing, here are just a few small steps to adopt as a springboard to your holistic journey.


Eat Clean

Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Rather than choosing processed foods, opt for a more nutritious platter of organic whole grains, fruits and protein.

Practice Mindfulness

When you become able to keep your mind quiet and ‘in the now’ amidst distractions, you will find yourself a few steps ahead of the crowd! Focus your awareness on the here and now: where you are, what you are doing and what surrounds you at that particular moment. Forget the past and don’t worry too much about the future. Give yourself permission to have the fullest experience of the moment.

To help you with this mental exercise, practice taking very deep, slow breaths in and count to three in your head as you breath out. This will greatly regulate your stress levels.

Goji berries, chia seeds, pine nuts and almonds.

Respect the Power of Your Body

Maybe you feel that you are not the most athletic person or that you can’t pull off all the yoga moves that you see others doing; but, really, it’s not about that! The body is a Pandora’s box of unknown possibilities and strengths just waiting to be directed and explored. Your body can do amazing things — it’s usually your mind that limits its potential. Aim towards removing mental limitations by shifting your perspective and give your body due credit. You’ll soon find that anything becomes possible.

‘Mere philosophy will not satisfy us. We cannot reach the goal by mere words alone. Without practice, nothing can be achieved. (3)’ — Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras

No one ever really dies… we just change states.

Drink Water

Keep a water bottle available at all times to remind you to drink enough pure water. Hydrating your body by taking regular sips will assist your body in flushing out toxins, increasing energy, improving skin complexion and boosting immunity.

Educate Yourself

Education is reformation. Keep yourself open to the new and unknown. As long as you can learn, you can improve.

‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.’ — Henry Ford

Tree branch.