Protein for exercise – does it really matter?
Almost every health and fitness magazine will include an article talking about the importance of protein for an active lifestyle. From whey drinks to eating more red meat, the market is awash with suggestions on how to boost muscle growth and muscle recovery with protein sources. But how does this advice relate to those of us who enjoy moderate amounts of exercise in our local gym – is protein only relevant if you’re preparing to run an ultra-marathon?
Why do we need protein in the first place?
Consuming the right amount of protein enables your body to build muscle and repair tissue damage after exercise. According to BBC IWonder, it is ‘essential for our body’s growth and repair…with at least 10,000 different proteins found in the human body.’
How much should I eat?
There’s no one size fits all answer to this question. Guidelines from The Food Standards Agency vary by age, with the average working adult requiring around 50 -55g of protein. Other influencing factors might include underlying health conditions, overall activity levels and personal weight goals. The Department of Health advises against consuming more than double the F.S.A protein intake guidelines, as there is growing evidence that this leads to an increased risk of osteoporosis and can worsen existing kidney problems.
So with the British Nutrition Foundation stating that the average daily intake of protein is already somewhere between 64g and 88g, do we really need protein supplements at all?
In an ideal world probably not. But with our busy lifestyles it can be difficult to get the right amount of protein at the right time and this is where the careful use of supplements can be useful.
What protein foods are best?
Animal proteins are ‘complete’ because they supply all of the amino acids your body needs for growth and repair. Most non-animal sources are ‘incomplete’ because they are missing some vital amino acids. In this respect, animal proteins are higher quality than non-animal proteins for the committed carnivore. If you are living a vegetarian lifestyle or simply want to add variation to your diet: quinoa, beans, chickpeas, lentils and nuts will also provide you with a good hit of plant based protein.
Once again well chosen supplements can take away any doubts about how much protein we’re supplying our bodies.
Does it matter what time of day I eat my protein?
Sort of, depending on your goals. Consuming protein immediately after your workout can help to improve recovery and limit the aches so often experienced the next day. This is where supplements come into their own, a post workout shake or protein bar can give you a convenient protein hit when you need it most.
But for most of us it’s about balancing our protein intake throughout the day.
Try our protein packed vegetable frittata for a recipe that not only delivers on protein but also helps you fit in your 5 a day. It’s perfect for a quick supper after working out at the gym, with enough leftovers to eat up at lunch the next day.
How do I know how much protein I am eating?
There are lots of online resources to help you understand which ingredients are good sources of lean, healthy protein. As most of us already get enough, it’s more about trying to make positive choices that support the healthy activities in our lives. Include protein in each meal and make sure to complement it with lots of vegetables and high fibre ingredients. That way you will have plenty of energy for your next session at Xercise Fitness Haxby
If you would like to find out more about how the team at Xercise Fitness Haxby can help you feel fit and healthy, give us a call on 01904 760707 or drop by the gym for a friendly, no strings chat.