Protein intake may not be your first thought when planning or sitting down to a meal. Oftentimes we reach for the most readily available fuel, dictated by a degree of hunger, fatigue, and, let’s face it, laziness. We all, to a certain extent, become vulnerable to temptations. Have you seen the influx of food, and more specifically, dessert trucks in our city? I find myself casting the (albeit reluctant) malocchio every time I encounter the ever-present cupcake truck.
Most people consider protein as just one of the three basic compounds we eat everyday, along with fat and carbohydrates.Less discussed, however, is the important role protein plays in fat loss, muscle gain, and exercise response. When strength training, for example, we create micro-tears in our muscles so that they will repair and rebuild to be stronger than they were before. Consuming protein after a workout is essential for rebuilding that muscle tissue.
Numerous studies have shown significant success rates in weight loss in conjunction with higher protein intake. The reason? Protein not only requires the most energy for our body to digest, resulting in the feeling of satiety for a longer period of time, but, by replenishing and preserving lean muscle mass, our metabolism naturally increases.
So, how much protein do you need?
The current RDA of protein for men ages nineteen and over is fifty-six grams. For women aged nineteen-plus, experts recommend a daily allowance of forty-six grams.
Those numbers will vary depending on the individual’s level of activity and intended muscle gains. The Iowa State University Extension on Sports Nutrition recommends that athletes consume between 0.4 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight daily. Try out their handy calculator available through above the link. Bodybuilders will readily surpass these amounts to remain competitive; however, this area of protein intake requires more research in order to determine a safe range of ultra-high protein consumption.
Ok, you get it now. Eat your eggs. But, what else can you pound down to prune up?
Sources of high-quality proteins are plentiful and broad-ranging.
Among us you will find the ravenous, thorough, and fully-committed carnivores who cannot fathom a proper meal (and sometimes snack, for the hard-core) sans meat. Others (shall we call them “weekday vegetarians”?)- possess a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward the meatier fare and reserve the perceived indulgence for Friday and Saturday dining. Yet, there are still- and I know and love many of them- who, for various justifications, live their lives meat-free, fish-free, and even sometimes egg-free.
Regardless of your own preferences, let’s explore how to adequately incorporate protein into your diet.
The obvious sources include fish, chicken, beef, and eggs. You can also find a wealth of protein in dairy, nuts, and even grains. One of richest sources of protein available comes from quinoa, a grain as easy to prepare as rice and just as versatile. Quinoa offers a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids used by our bodies. Another complete protein option is the timeless combination of beans and rice.
If you are not currently making protein at least thirty percent of your diet, you might be sabotaging your own efforts in the gym. Small changes can yield big results.
Are you getting enough?
Jodilyn Stuart is the owner of ModaBody Fitness and has been a fitness professional since 1997. She has recently begun contributing to 303 Magazine as a fitness writer.