When you think about getting stronger and gaining muscle and food, the first thing that comes into your mind is most likely protein, and rightfully so. Protein is essential to make muscle and strength gains. It is a nutritional non-negotiable. But I say this not only for strength training; it is non-negotiable for proper body function in general- something that is neglected far too often. I have found that most people do not eat enough protein. It is not just for people who lift weights.
How much protein do you need?
The minimum amount of protein for base-line body function is approximately .383 grams per pound of body weight. This is enough protein for you to be able to sustain your organs and grow your hair and fingernails, etc. For athletes, or for someone looking to increase their strength, this number would be significantly higher; anywhere between 1-2 grams per pound of bodyweight is typical.
What types of food should I eat to increase my protein?
Some great choices for protein are lean meats, fish, shellfish, yogurt, eggs, and egg whites. You can also supplement with protein products like bars and powders/shakes if necessary, but I always opt for real food if possible. Other products with added protein are pretty great; like pro series protein yogurts, protein almond milk, or protein oatmeal.
What about nuts and beans? I’ve always heard those are easy ways to add protein to my diet.
Some foods that you may have been misled into thinking are good protein sources are nuts, nut butter, beans, etc. While these do contain protein, it is not very much and they also tend to be high in fat and/or carbs (which is fine-the bigger issue is that they are pretty low on the protein end).
What else should I consider when selecting protein?
I am not a huge fan of fake meats and soy-containing products. The connection between estrogen promotion and female cancers is not a trade-off that I can endorse.
If you would like to chat more about protein, or nutrition in general, come see me at my office hours: Saturday, April 24th, 9-11 am, and Thursday, April 29th, 7-8 pm.