All individuals require an adequate intake of protein in their diet everyday to support immune function, enzyme and hormone production, repair and rebuild lean muscle tissue. If you enjoy exercise and workout 2-3 times per week then protein intake is more important than a sedentary individual to attain great health. Protein consists of 20 amino acids that can form into any cell structure in your body from muscles, tendons, and skin to hair.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Association of Athletics Federations recommend 1.2-1.7g protein/kg bodyweight per day. This can equate to a wide range of protein intake for an individual, for example: a 75kg male can consume between 90-127.5g proteins per day. From experience helping clients achieve better health and get in shape, you would set daily protein targets based on the goals or body response they’re trying to achieve. Also the type of training an individual will perform would be considered when setting daily protein goals. For example, an individual who is more endurance based I would recommend 1.2-1.4g protein per kg of bodyweight per day, where as a strength/power based lifter would consume 1.6-1.8g protein per day. Yes, I understand this could take your protein intake higher than the IOC recommendations but strength based training will tax the body, break down muscle structures and the demand for good quality proteins will increase to promote recovery.
What are the best protein sources?
We should aim to consume complete proteins, which refers to a protein source with all 8 essential amino acids. We need complete proteins in our diet as the human body cannot produce these types of amino acids where as non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body. Complete proteins mostly come from animal sources, for example: Meat and Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Milk and cheese.
Plant based proteins have less protein density and tend to be one or more essential amino acids short therefore you would require a wide range of plant based foods in order to achieve your complete protein intake. A well planned vegetarian diet will meet these daily protein requirements however this may be harder to achieve in comparison to carnivores. In recent years, the development of supplements for vegetarians has become more available to the general population and would help support the goals of strength based vegetarian athletes who demands more protein.
|Animal Protein Sources||Protein||Plant Based Protein Sources||Protein|
|130g Chicken||39g||½ Tin of Kidney Beans||20g|
|1 Fillet of Mackerel||31g||½ Tin of Chick Peas||20g|
|150g Salmon||30g||100g Quinoa||13g|
|100g Beef||28g||100g Quorn Mince||12g|
|1 Tin of Tuna||24g||½ Tin Baked Beans||10g|
|120g Grilled Cod||21g||100g Tofu||8g|
|100g Cottage Cheese||12g||100g Lentils||8g|
|1 Medium Egg||8g||Handful of Walnuts (50g)||7g|
|150g Natural Yoghurt||8g||200ml Soya Milk||6g|
|200ml Cow’s Milk||7g||100g Cous Cous||5g|
The timing of protein intake can be just as important as the amount we consume throughout the day. Studies have shown that athletes recover faster and gain more muscle when they consume protein before and after their workout. A review of studies on protein concluded that some protein should be consumed within the first hour after exercise, the infamous golden hour. Protein consumed along with carbohydrates at a ratio of 1g protein to 4g carbohydrates was most effective in promoting muscle recovery than just carbs alone. The ideal post-workout nutrition should contain 10-20g protein and approx 4 times as much carbs as protein.
Did you know? There is 4 Calories per 1g Protein
Why choose eggs for exercise?
Egg protein makes a very useful contribution to the diets of regular exercisers for the following reasons:
- One egg supplies more than 7g of high quality protein
- Eggs contain all the essential amino acids the body need to build and maintain muscle mass.
- Eggs are rich in leucine, an essential amino acid that helps the body unlock energy, and helps muscles recover after exercise.
- They provide a nutrient dense source of energy from protein and fat. They contain around 78 calories, as well as vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and folate.
- A recent review of 25 studies of protein suggested that egg protein can be advantageous for endurance based performers due to its high content of leucine. This is a good protein source if you exercise for prolonged duration over 60minutes.
Eggs are easily digested in the gut and perfect for after your workout
Thanks for reading my blog and this was written to briefly explain about protein and its role in exercise and troubleshoot protein myths. I could spend all day talking protein and still have more to say. It is important to avoid the culture of zero-carb diets or the convenience of consuming just liquid protein sources, for example: ready-to-go protein shakes and protein coffees. On the other hand why not try being vegetarian for one day and have fun making your own protein abundant recipes.
Thanks Jake Wood