Protein intake remains by and far
one of the most coveted discussions I have with my clients. Whether it’s the amount, the type, or the frequency, there are never too many questions surrounding the nutrient. I’d like to share some pro tips on protein intake to help you get an idea on how much you should be eating, as well as which sources are best!
Protein is a macronutrient that our body needs for both energy as well as tissue development. In fact, proteins are vital for muscle reparation, fluid balance, and nutrient transportation, as well as the building and maintenance of hormones and sterols. With all these important functions, protein rarely has time to be a useful source for energy. Only in extreme instances where will the body break down proteins for energy.
Here are some tips about protein that may help you make decisions on how, when, and what types to consume.
- Complete proteins are protein sources that contain all essential amino acids. Meat, and animal products such as eggs, are complete proteins. Vegan and vegetarian options would rely on a combination of whole grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts.
- Follow the recommended intake of 0.7 – 1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight. There are some special scenarios where an increased protein intake may be useful, such as extreme athletes, bodybuilders, or bulking diets. In these cases, protein intake can be up to 1.5 – 2.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
- Optimize protein ingestion before and after a workout. While your diet should have at least 1 protein source per meal, there is a heightened emphasis on ingesting more protein 1-2 hours before a workout as well as 30 minutes to an hour after. This ‘protein window’ helps maintain anabolic homeostasis and a positive nitrogen balance to promote muscle tissue regeneration.
- Use a carbohydrate with protein to enhance the protein absorption. When consuming proteins, especially before or after a workout, carbohydrates should be included as well as this helps to increase the absorption rate for proteins.
- When to use whey? Whey protein is one of the most popular protein choices. This particular protein is easy to digest and absorb. Whey protein is best used as a supplement before or after a workout. On the other hand, casein isolate is useful in the evening due to its slower digestion and absorption rate.
The bottom line for protein intake is a simple concept: eat as many whole and unprocessed foods as possible while staying within your caloric budget. Furthermore, it’s important to eat enough protein to maintain a positive nitrogen balance without consuming an excessive amount.
For more tips on nutrition, tune in next week!