Trivia Question: What do the following foods have in common?
If you didn’t catch on to the common theme by #7, I'm hoping #8 gave it away…
They are all high in protein!
A well-balanced diet gets 10-35% of calories from protein, 45-65% of calories from carbohydrates, and 20-35% of calories from fat. Protein is the macronutrient of lean mass.
Getting enough protein is necessary for almost every bodily process right down to the molecular level, and is especially important for aiding exercise recovery.
How much protein should you be consuming each day?
Health professionals recommend 0.7-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, depending on physical activity levels and gender. Extremely active people should err on the higher end. That means a 200-pound male should be eating between 140 and 300 grams of protein per day, and a 145-pound female should be eating between 100 and 220 grams of protein per day. To put those numbers in perspective, one 4 ounce chicken breast has around 30 grams of protein, and one egg has 6 grams of protein.
It’s important to ensure you are consuming a ‘complete protein’- one with all nine essential amino acids. Complete proteins include animal meat, eggs, and some plant products like quinoa or buckwheat. Incomplete proteins can be combined with one another to create a complete protein- such as nuts with whole grain bread, or rice with beans.
Getting your daily protein intake is important- but is the source also important? Thinking back to the list at the beginning, how does #8 on our high protein list compare to #1-7?! Well, protein in foods comes with a variety of other nutrients to fulfill the body’s need for vitamins, minerals, and the two other macronutrients (fat and carbohydrates).
However, protein powder is more concentrated, so it’s a great source of high quantity protein without excess calories. This makes using protein powder as an additive highly beneficial. Mix it into oatmeal or pancake mix to balance out a high carb meal, or toss it in a smoothie to get grams with your greens.
In the case of busy adults hitting the gym before, after, or even during work, protein powder is simply more convenient than a full-blown meal as a protein source. It is essential to replenish muscles with protein immediately following (or at least within 20 minutes of) a workout to ensure that the benefits of the workout can manifest, and to prevent overeating at meals later in the day.
When choosing a protein powder, look for one made from ‘complete protein’ derivatives (like whey) to ensure that the body is receiving a nutrient that contains all nine essential amino acids. At the end of the day, it’s all about reaching that recommended 10-35% number!