Regardless of what level athlete you are, everyone needs protein in their diet. The USDA recommends that 20% of your caloric intake daily come from protein. If you are in the gym training a few times a week, then you are giving your body more to recover from. (All that soreness you’re feeling is broken down muscle just waiting to be built back up, and that takes protein!) A common rule of thumb is that you should look for around your body weight in grams of protein a day. For example, I weigh 220 pounds, therefore I’m looking for around 220 g of protein a day. (There are exceptions of course, but the leaner you are, the closer this is to being true, your coach can help determine your actual needs.)
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The issue we run into, is that it’s very difficult to get to these numbers through food alone. A piece of chicken breast the size of your fist, which is approximately one serving, usually yields around 25 to 35 g of protein. You can imagine how much chicken it would take to reach your daily goal, and how much time you invested not only cooking that chicken, but actually consuming and digesting it! This is where protein supplements come in.
They are helping to supplement your protein intake, as the name implies, not replace it.
A standard protein supplement will have around 25 to 35 g of protein per serving, which is about all your body can handle in one sitting anyway.
How to choose a good protein supplement:
When looking for a protein supplement, it’s important that you find one that is mostly protein. I recommend a whey-based protein, as it is more bioavailable, which means your body has an easier time using it.
A very easy way to check on the quality of the protein is to compare the grams of protein in one serving to the grams of what one full scoop serving actually weighs. For example, in the photo below you’ll see that the weight of one serving is 41 g, and the amount of protein in that serving is 34 g.
This is a great ratio, we run into problems when the carbohydrate content is high in a protein supplement, whether from sugar, or other fillers, making the grams of protein much less in relation to the weight of the actual serving.
When you were looking for a protein supplement, that’s all you want. Carbohydrates in your diet should come from eaten food, as in, chew your calories when it comes to carbs. Not only will this help you stay fuller longer, but chances are those carbs will have other benefits such as nutrients found in vegetables.
In summary, protein is necessary for anyone looking to recover from a hard training session, whether you’re trying to build muscle, or lean out, protein makes sure that your muscles are fueled, and we don’t lose hard earned muscle while striving for fat loss. Look for a high-quality protein supplement that contains mostly protein, and tastes great, because the one that is best for you, is the one you’re most likely to use!
For more information on navigating the sea of information that exists on the internet about protein, or nutrition in general, you can schedule an appointment with a coach to review what’s right for you, and what you should focus on when it comes to fueling your body for your goals!