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Athletes, it seems, are pretty obsessed with protein. If you're new to working out, you'll soon be pulled into the whole protein-shake spiel, and may become convinced that more is definitely more when it comes to protein for people who want to build muscle mass. It's not quite that simple, though.

What Happens If You Don't Get Enough Protein

Everyone, regardless of whether they work out or not, requires daily protein for optimal health. As your body's cells — all of which contain protein — are dying, they need to be replaced, and for that you need amino acids, for which you in turn need proteins. If you fail to take in enough protein, and more precisely all of the essential amino acids, your body will instead start taking protein from existing cells, including the muscles. 

To prevent protein deficiencies, it is recommended that you consume at least 0.8 grams of protein for each kilo of bodyweight.

In addition, it's important to make sure to get all the essential amino acids. Meat and eggs meet these requirements, making them "complete proteins", while plant proteins are incomplete proteins. In order to receive complete proteins from a vegan meal, it is necessary to combine different sources, such as beans and nuts.

Protein And Working Out: Is More Really More?

Everyone needs a balanced diet, containing foods from all major food groups, in order to be as healthy as they can be. If you're working out regularly, you do need daily access to high-quality proteins to build muscle mass. However, research indicates that more certainly is not more when you pass a certain point: a diet in which 30 percent or more of your total daily calories come from protein may well do you more harm than good.

It certainly won't help increase your muscle mass, yet will lead to a build-up of ketones, which will put your kidneys under stress and even your heart can be affected. Needless to say, that will not do you overall health any good, and won't improve your workout stamina.

Are Raw Eggs A Better Source Of Protein Than Cooked Eggs?

Raw eggs added to shakes are a really popular source of protein among athletes. As complete proteins, eggs are an obvious choice. Why do people choose raw eggs over cooked eggs, though? It beats me: the protein in cooked eggs is actually more bioavailable (91 percent vs 50 percent).

In addition, while raw eggs pose a risk of salmonella infections, cooked eggs do not.

The Bottom Line

If you want to be healthy and build muscle mass, you need protein, but not too much: not more than 30 percent of your total caloric intake. Those who eat fish, meat, and dairy on a daily basis are most probably getting all the proteins they need already. They can stop worrying. Vegans and vegetarians may want to give the matter another thought or two, making sure that they get protein from plenty of different sources, and are consuming at least 0.8 grams per kilo of bodyweight.

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