Protein is a vital macronutrient that many of us aren’t actually getting enough of. When people think of protein, they immediately associate it with bodybuilders and individuals looking to build muscle. Whilst it’s true that protein is indeed essential for the growth and repair of muscle tissue, it is also essential for a number of other processes constantly being carried out on a cellular level within our bodies. For this reason, not only do we need it to build muscle, we also need it to function healthily and correctly. Getting enough protein in your diet for health and well-being purposes can be difficult enough, but getting enough protein in our diets when looking to increase our lean muscle mass can be a real nightmare for some of us. Whether you’re trying to improve your health and well-being, or pack on as much lean muscle mass as possible before the summer arrives, here are five effective tips for optimal protein consumption.
Consume good quality proteins
One mistake that many people tend to make when consuming protein, is to assume that all protein sources are the same and are therefore broken down and digested in the same way within the body. In reality however, this is not the case at all. When we think of protein, we often think of meat as meat is indeed a great source of this vital macronutrient. The problem is that there are so many different kinds of meat out there, that some are far healthier than others. Lean red meat for example, is ideal as it is low in saturated fat, it is rich in amino acids and protein, and it is packed full of minerals such as zinc and iron. Processed meats such as bologna however, aren’t as beneficial as they contain far more fats, less proteins and amino acids, and no beneficial nutrients such as minerals either. Before consuming any protein source, ask yourself whether the food you’re consuming is easily digested by the body, and whether or not it is rich in other nutrients as well. Meat and seafood proteins can be easily digested provided you chew them well enough, though again, they should be lean, natural, and nutrient dense. Organic eggs are also very easily digested and broken down within the body. For optimal absorption however, whey protein powder mixed with water is absorbed very quickly indeed.
Include a protein source with each meal
In order to reap the rewards associated with adequate protein consumption, we need to ensure that we’re consuming enough protein with each meal to keep protein levels topped up throughout the day. For that reason, we need to include a protein source with each meal. Ideally we should be aiming for around 15 – 30g of protein with every meal. That means that for breakfast, instead of a bowl of cereal, you may want to go with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon perhaps? Each meal should be balanced so you don’t want a massive pile of meat on your plate with each meal, but you do want a high protein source, whether it comes from eggs, meat, fish, or even vegetarian sources such as tofu perhaps.
Supplement with protein powders
For people looking to build muscle mass, they will require high amounts of protein each day. Meeting these daily macro requirements with food alone could be tricky, which is why protein powders are ideal as they allow you to easily increase your daily protein consumption. You only want around 1 or 2 protein shakes each day, one of which should directly follow your workout. They are no substitute for real food, but they do come in very handy for meeting daily macro requirements.
Aim for 1.5 – 2g protein per pound of bodyweight
Again, if muscle mass is your goal, a great way of easily working out how much protein you should be consuming each day is to aim for 1.5 – 2g protein for every pound that you weigh. Protein is essential for muscle tissue growth and repair and it plays a key role in protein synthesis, a vital process when it comes to the synthesis of new muscle proteins. As an example, a 200lb man would require around 300 – 400g of protein each day, spaced out evenly throughout the day.
Never consume too much protein in one sitting
Another mistake that many people tend to make is to consume too much protein per meal as they think this will maximise their chances of building muscle. In reality, the human body is only able to absorb around 35g of protein per meal, with anything left over simply going to waste. For that reason, don’t load your plate up with 5 or 6 chicken breasts at a time, along with a protein shake per meal as you will basically be wasting food and supplements. One or two chicken breasts would be more than sufficient enough.