Protein is one of three macronutrients needed for our bodies to function, the others being carbohydrates and fats. While all three are important for performance in the gym, protein seems to be the top focus because of its role in muscle repair. Lets break down the basics on protein and how it relates to physical fitness.
It is a myth that anyone going to the gym on a regular basis needs to consume large amounts of protein. Unless you are an endurance athlete or power lifter, you are more than likely consuming over the recommended amount of protein through diet. The average gym-goer needs 1.1g of protein per kg body weight. You can easily calculate how much protein is needed by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2 and multiplying that number by 1.1. For the average male weighing 160lbs, he needs about 80g of protein. If he ate two scrambled eggs, one chicken breast, and a glass of milk, he would already be consuming 73g of protein.
Whole-food protein is recommended over shakes and supplements. Shakes can add extra, unwanted calories to your diet, while whole-food protein contains nutrients that shakes do not. However, they can be convenient if you need protein in a pinch or if you follow a vegetarian/vegan diet.
Below are some different types of protein:
- Whey- protein made from milk (not good for lactose intolerance and dairy allergies), aids in muscle repair
- Casein- protein also made from milk, but absorbed more slowly than whey, making it ideal for meal replacements
- Soy- plant-based protein, good for vegans and lactose intolerance, should be taken in conjunction with whole food proteins, as its been linked to increased risk of break cancer
- Pea- another plant-based protein, highly digestible, high in glutamic acid to aid in the conversion of carbs to energy so they’re not stored as fat
Protein shakes should be taken within 2 hours of your workout, in order to aid in the muscle repair process. While the dairy-based proteins are great for this, plant-based proteins are easily digestible and help to reduce muscle soreness.
Bottom line, protein is an important part of an active person’s diet. If you are consuming a balanced diet, you are more than likely getting plenty of protein. However, if you feel you need additional grams, there are options out there, depending on your needs.
Contributed by Nicole Kresak, Dietetic Student
Hughes, L. (2015, December 09). Get the Scoop on Protein Powders. Retrieved March 26, 2017, from http://www.shape.com/blogs/fit-foodies/get-scoop-protein-powders
Rizzo, N. (2016, January 18). Protein Myths and Realities [Web log post]. Retrieved March 26, 2017, from http://scandpg.blogspot.com/2016_01_01_archive.html