Why is protein so important for health and performance? Part 1

It is a well known fact among athletes, fitness enthusiasts and  celebrities alike  that eating well is as important as training right if they’re to achieve their goals and ambitions. There are some exercise scientists that would go so far to say that nutrition would account for 80% a successful training program to achieve optimum performance and health benefits. You cannot out train a bad diet! As far as the macro nutrients go (protein, carbohydrates and fats), protein is crucial. 

Ask anyone with that  Hollywood 6 pack  or  J - LO butt   if they take low levels of protein to look good, most would say no.


Why is protein so important for health and performance? Meat (for example) is an excellent source of protein, which is essential for any healthy diet.  It helps build and repair muscle as well as help maintain healthy hair, bones, skin and blood. Building lean and toned muscle takes more than just putting hours in at the gym. While training is obviously important, rest is equally significant. Without rest, strength gains will not occur. It’s during this time muscles heal (with the aid of protein) from the stresses forced on them during exercise.


How much do I take?


The following information about protein intake is extracted from the   independent research conducted by Examine.com. Strictly adhering to unbiased analysis devoid of supplement branding agendas, they recently released the Supplement-Goals Reference Guide (which is updated daily) in order to make it easy to figure out which supplements work (and which are hype). Protein consumption is measured upon an individual’s body weight. Unless one is morbidly obese were protein is taken for 1 g of protein per total body weight in kg desired. Otherwise the proven guidelines are displayed here-under:

0.5g/kg body weight – this is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein. This is the minimum to keep you alive and in ‘general’ health.

0.5-1.0g/kg body weight – this is a higher range mostly used by health-conscious people or people who are new to exercise and are trying to build some muscle.

1.0-1.5g/kg – this is the range which tends to be recommended for building muscle and reaching your athletic goals.

1.5-2.2g/kg (1g/lb) – recommended based on anecdotal evidence, but extremely under-researched (the highest dose recommended being around 1.8g/kg

(Orwell, 2013)


According to the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, strength athletes require between 1.2g and 1.7g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. Endurance athletes need a protein intake of 1.2g and 1.4g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.  Therefore, a strength athlete weighing 105kg will require 126g to 177g protein daily and an endurance athlete weighing 75kg will need between 90g and 105g protein each day. It’s thought a typical 6oz lean fillet steak contains approximately 32g protein.


At this stage you are probably thinking that you do not consume enough protein. But, what proteins exactly should you be eating?

Please read part 2 of the protein series to understand how to tailor protein to reach your goals - out next week... 


Author avatar

Chris Cahill (B/Sc, Dip)

Strength & Conditioning Coach, Health Consultant, Personal Trainer (www.chriscahillpt.co.uk)

Internationally educated sports scholarship graduate from Bournemouth University, Chris's personal training specializes in aesthetics and performance. He also works as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Queen Mary University and delivers bio-age consultations on behalf of Healthwise for corporate companies in the City. Currently he trains full time as an Olympic weightlifter.