It is important to get protein in your diet. I was looking around for some tips to offer about increasing protein in your diet when I ran across this article by David Monyer on increasing protein in your diet. As you should really be aware most people do not get enough protein in their diet and if you are doing any lifting (also known as resistance training) you need a little more protein in your diet anyway. Read through this and see just how much it helps you learn more about protein.
One problem that I do have though is with the myth that you need 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body per day. I could not stomach 300 or 400 grams of protein a day and think that 150 to 200 grams is the max that anyone should take in per day.
The first thing every bodybuilder needs to know is the importance of getting enough protein in your diet. Although plenty of protein can be consumed in the form of whole foods, bodybuilders typically use a combination of beef, foul (chicken, turkey), fish and protein supplements in powder or liquid form.
Protein In Your Diet – Content In Common Foods
- 8 ounces of various steaks: 45g protein, 10g fat
- ounces chicken breast: 40g protein, 2g fat
- 6 ounces Turkey breast: 30g protein, 1g fat
- 8 ounces pork chop: 30g protein, 6g fat
- 4 ounces hamburger (90%): 15g protein, 10g fat
- 1 can chunk light tuna (6.25 oz): 40g protein, 1g fat
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese: 12g protein, 2g fat
- 1 large egg: 6g protein, 3g fat
Using a combination of these excellent foods, you can easily meet your requirements for 3 or 4 of your 6 meals each day. Preparing six meals every day utilizing these foods, however, would cost a lot of time and money!
This is why supplemental protein comes into play. Protein “shakes” are an extremely convenient, fast and cheap meal to help you get two or three more servings of protein a day. As an added bonus, the better quality protein powders taste excellent! Protein powder supplements come in many different types, formulations, and flavors.
Protein consists of amino acids, which are the very building blocks of muscle tissue. There are 22 amino acids, some of which the body can make on it’s own, and some that must be provided in the diet. The combination of the different amino acids in a protein source is called the amino acid profile. Each type of protein has a different amino acid profile. This is why it is best to eat a variety of proteins sources as well as use a variety of protein powder supplements. The most popular types of protein powders are whey, casein, egg, and soy.
Types of Protein for your Diet
Whey protein is by far the most popular and most heavily used protein supplement. Whey protein is cheaper per gram of protein than most other types of protein. Whey protein is absorbed very quickly by the digestive system and reaches the muscles quickly. Whey protein is best used as the first meal of the day because your body has not had any protein for many hours during the night and you want to get it in your bloodstream right away. Use whey protein immediately following a workout because this is the most important time to take in a large quantity of protein and you want to get to your muscles as soon as possible.
Casein protein is a bit more expensive than whey protein, but is absorbed at a much slower rate. This fact makes casein protein the supplement of choice right before bedtime. A generous serving of casein protein can provide your muscles with a steady supply of protein for 5 to 6 hours as opposed to 1 or 2 hours for whey protein. Casein protein is also an excellent choice if you think it may be a long time before your next protein serving.
Egg protein is not nearly as popular as whey or casein mostly because of its cost. It is, however an excellent supplement with a high BV (Biological Value is used to indicate how much of the protein is actually used by the body) and excellent amino acid profile. I like to add egg protein to my whey and casein shakes for variety or occasionally as a substitute.
Soy Protein, which comes from the soy bean, while popular with vegetarians, is slightly inferior to whey, egg and casein protein. While this may be true based upon its incomplete amino acid profile, it is still an excellent way to add variety to your protein intake, and is recommended as an addition to your overall supplement diet.
Protein supplements are by far the most popular supplement in the bodybuilding world. I suggest purchasing from a name brand to be sure you are getting a quality product. If you are new to bodybuilding and supplements, some of the top selling quality brands are BSN, MuscleTech, Optimum Nutrition, Twinlab, Cytosport, EAS, and the list goes on. I recommend trying several different brands and flavors until you find one you really like. I will occasionally switch brands just for variety and possibly if I come across a good sale.
Why Protein And What Are Essential Amino Acids?
Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the body so it is an essential part of your diet and can influence your strength but probably not your energy. Your muscles are built with protein and in fact protein is made up of 20 amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and 9 are essential, they cannot be created and must be eaten meaning the other 11 amino acids can be created by our body.
Many times we hear that you need to eat steak for energy but in actual fact as we learned earlier carbohydrates are the body’s favored energy source. I always think of muscles as being made out of protein but really muscles are mostly water and protein so if you think about how people tend to diet they will cut out things like steak and carbohydrates so the body is not getting as much protein and carbohydrates as it needs to burn for energy so it will tend to burn protein and fat in equal parts to get energy.
This is great for losing weight and good for losing fat but it is really bad to lose muscle. One of the ways to stop your body from burning muscle for energy is to do a fair amount of exercise, especially training to increase your muscle mass on a consistent basis.
So what kind of foods contain protein and how much do we need? Full proteins are found in steak chicken and fish and non-full proteins (those without all of the essential amino acids) are contained in lentils, beans, corn, peanuts. A can of Tuna has 20-25 grams of protein and if you look around you can probably get about 80 grams of protein a day comfortably.
One critical thing to look out for is the amount of protein that you eat at each meal. Your body can only metabolize about 25-30 grams of protein at a meal which is only about 4 ounces of steak or chicken. In the past I had taken digestive enzymes with my main meals to help to metabolize more but I now think that this may be a bit of shaky science behind it.
Some bodybuilders will eat 250-500 grams of protein a day but realistically if you have protein in a couple or three of your meals you are doing pretty good. One of the things to concentrate on is drinking a lot more water when you are eating a lot of protein, a lot of water is needed for your body to break down protein so if you are increasing your protein intake drink more water to help take the load off of your kidneys.
There are many ways to get protein in your diet and using the benchmark of just 1 gram per pound of body per day of protein in your diet if you are working out with weights will be perfect in the long run.