Protein is crucial if you are trying to build or maintain a fitter, leaner and stronger body, but it is important to know what types of food provide the best sources of proteins and how and when they should be consumed. Check out the power of protein and some tips to help you maximise your results:
Get to know your proteins
Most animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, cheese and milk are ‘complete’ proteins. Some plant proteins, eggs, soybean products such as tofu are also complete proteins. Complete proteins hold all the necessary amino acids.
‘Incomplete’ proteins are foods containing low protein or only some of the nine amino acids that you need in your diet (eg. grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, beans, lentils). Vegetable protein (plant-based proteins) is usually considered incomplete as it lacks one or more of the nine essential amino acids. You can combine incomplete proteins to make all of the essential amino acids available and form a complete protein. Include both complete and incomplete proteins into your diet.
Choosing a variety of protein foods will make sure that you acquire all the essential nutrients. To provide your body with all the necessary amino acids, join two incomplete proteins together or pair an incomplete protein with a complete protein. Click here for an overview of different sources of protein.
Eating the right amount of Protein
Aim to have at least 20 grams of protein per meal. This is particularly critical at breakfast. Eating at least 40% of your breakfast calories as protein will decrease carb impulses and this will promote a negative fat balance. As an example, you can have 2-3 whole eggs, turkey bacon, bacon/sausages (preferable organic) or cottage cheese. If you struggle with time in the morning, have a 30 gram protein shake. Eating enough protein will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, reduce hunger cravings and also provide consistent energy throughout the day.
A good rule of thumb for safe daily protein intake is 0.8 to 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For muscular gain, aim for 1.25 grams per kilogram of current lean bodyweight (ie; you first subtract your body fat).
Post workout Protein and Carbs
Our Team One Fitness sessions are high intensity. This causes a depletion in vitamins and minerals but also a breakdown of cells and tissues that require adequate nutrients to repair. The amino acids in protein are critical to repair your muscles and the carbohydrates will help to transfer these amino acids to your body’s cells to enable muscle growth. Consuming a protein shake with added fruit immediately after training is ideal.
Beware of high sugar protein shakes and bars
Protein shakes can be a quick and easy way to consume your 30 grams of protein at the start of the day, and with added fruit can be a quick and effective post workout recovery. It is important to remember these are not designed to be a meal replacement. This is because Protein shakes and bars are often loaded with sugar and should be avoided. If you like to use protein shakes, make sure you look for a low sugar option.
Remember that the best source of proteins for snacks is from real foods such as nuts, seeds, Greek yoghurt etc; these can be as convenient ‘on the go’ as protein bars. To avoid the high sugar and additives in protein bars, you can also make your own. You can make a large batch and refrigerate and freeze to keep them fresh.