What is protein?

Protein is a macronutrient that is made up of amino acids. It plays an important role in building and repairing tissues. Your hair, nails, bones, muscles, organs, cartilage and blood are all made of protein. It’s also used to make hormones and enzymes, aids in cells being able to communicate with each other and is critical for a healthy immune system.

If you want to lose weight, protein is your ally. When eating at a calorie deficit, including a serving of protein in all of your meals will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Another benefit is that when you digest protein, you actually burn more calories than you do when digesting carbohydrates or fat.

If increased strength is your goal, protein is essential to build muscle. It keeps you healthy and strong by repairing and healing muscle tissue.  If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, it can actually result in muscle loss.

What foods contain protein?

Plant based protein sources

Protein is found in animal products such as red meat, fish, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy. Protein is also in plant based food sources like beans, nuts, seeds, quinoa, tofu and vegetables.

Does protein need to be consumed immediately after a workout?

While eating protein is an important part of recovery after you exercise, you don’t need to guzzle down a protein shake as soon as you walk out of the gym.  It is recommended to eat between 20 grams and 40 grams of protein within 2 to 3 hours of completing your workout.

Can protein powder be used to increase protein intake?

It’s optimal that you get protein from the food you eat. However, this isn’t always practical and there are times when supplementation is needed. If you need to supplement with protein powders, use products that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates and fat. Some suggestions are:

  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Milk protein blend
  • Egg white
  • Plant-based protein (pea, rice, hemp, etc)

Questions?

Want more tips or advice on nutrition or interested in finding out how much protein you should be eating everyday? Contact FitFlex Nutrition to learn about our Nutrition Coaching services.

 

 

Sources
Ryan Andrews article, “All about protein: What is it and how much do you need?”, http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein
John Berardi, The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition (Precision Nutrition, 2016)