Quite simply, if you're training and you want to reap the maximum benefit for your efforts then you NEED to make sure your diet is working for you. In this short blog we'll focus on the benefit of protein, where you can get it and how much you need.
It was only when I got round to doing the nutrition module on my diploma that I realised how far off the mark I had been with my personal diet with regards to calorie intake, and in particular protein intake. Guiding for 6-7 hours a day, sometimes 6 or 7 days a week will build up quite a calorie deficit. This would mean two things - 1) I'd stuff my face when I get in from work on savoury snacks. 2) I wasn't getting enough protein to weald all the benefit from taking thousands of steps up hundreds of metres of elevation.
So sticking focussed on Protein, why should we include it in our diet, particularly if we're active?
Protein, when ingested along with Carbohydrate, can boost the rate at which our glycogen stores replenish. Glycogen is the fuel of the body and so it is important we get these stores topped up after we exercise so we're good to go again when required. We'll cover Carbohydrates in another blog.
Protein will will help repair your muscles after exercise, and in turn you should feel reduced muscle soreness. Focussing on the first part of this, you'll essentially see better gains, quicker if you eat the required amounts of protein in your diet. Protein really does unlock the full potential of your workout or exercise, and neglecting to get it in will inhibit how much you adapt to the stimulus you've out your body under. Secondly, if you feel less soreness in your muscles, the chances are you'll be able to increase your training volume. More training = more results (to a point of course!).
How much protein, and when?
How much is completely individual and will depend on how much you weigh, how active you are and what your goals are. If you do a Google search you'll find a variety of figures thrown around with regards to how much protein per kilogram of bodyweight you should consume. It's believed you should consume 0.9grams /kgvw for day to day living, and if you exercise, this increases to anywhere between 1.2 - 2 grams per KG of bodyweight.
Whatever your total figure is, you should try and spread it across 4-5 meals / intakes throughout the day. It's believed the body can generally only absorb 25-35grams of protein in one go, so if you try and cram too much in one go, it'll probably not be utilised.
Once you know this figure you'll have something to aim for and can build in appropriate food and supplements to hit that goal. For myself, I need to hit 140grams protein a day and until I measured my Macros I didn't realise how far off this target I was. I highly recommend downloading a 'Macros' App and track your food for 10-14 days to see how your diet shapes up.
The table below gives you an idea as to how much protein is found in a variety of foods:
Getting your nutrients from actual foods is always recommended over turning to supplements, however when you have a high protein target then you may feel like you're constantly eating. A good quality protein shake will most likely have a 20-25gram protein hit, which could equate to a hearty percentage of your total.