A lot of people always ask me “why is protein important?” The answer is the same every time! Protein is the building block of the body and without protein we cannot repair our cells, muscles or tissue. The reason people who exercise regularly and workout at the gym consume large amounts of protein is so that their body can recover faster and build new muscle mass.
Protein for Weight Loss: High protein diets are a good way to strip off fat but keep muscle mass. If you are dieting to ‘tone up’ then this is the way to do it, you will cut away the fat leaving the muscle behind. Some conventional diets can result in unhealthy muscle loss.
An extreme example of a high protein diet is the infamous Atkins diet. We would not recommend following the Atkins diet but eating lean meats such as chicken, turkey breast and fish paired with complex carbohydrates such as grains and wheat.
Protein to build muscle: If you are consuming protein to gain muscle then the rule you should be following is 1.2-1.5g of protein per lb. of bodyweight. In example, if you weigh 165 pounds and want to build muscle then you should be getting at least 198g of protein per day. Getting this much protein from food can be a bit of a nightmare so your diet should be filled with protein enriched foods such as:
- Fish (Tuna is a good source)
- Chicken breast
- Turkey breast
- Nuts and seeds
As well as protein rich foods you should be eating clean carbohydrates and plenty of fruit and veg.
This could mean splitting your daily food intake down into 6 smaller portions per day and having a small amount of carbohydrates for breakfast and then again in the middle of the day. Consume protein shakes throughout the day to keep your body fueled with protein. The best carbohydrates to eat on a diet like this are things like wholemeal pasta, shredded wheat, Weetabix, wholemeal rice, sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes etc.
Eating this much in one day will be a challenge at first and you will need to split your meals down in to 6 smaller portions per day and try to have a good amount of protein and carbs with each while keeping fat to a minimal.
Things like tea and coffee are still ok to drink just use skimmed milk instead of full fat. Supplements such as protein powder, protein bars and protein shakes can help you to reach your daily target of protein.