Protein has many roles in the body — it’s the building block of muscle, bone, hair, skin and nails and it also helps to ensure a healthy immune system. Frequent injury or illness may indicate that an athlete is not getting enough protein in his or her diet.
The timing of protein is also very important. Protein consumption should be spread over the course of the day, and protein should be consumed with each meal and snack.
That way, blood sugar tends to be more stable, which helps to minimize cravings. For example, if you typically have a piece of fruit for a snack, try to add some nuts or plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt to increase the protein content.
Protein intake should also be structured around workouts. Consume protein and carbohydrate 1-2 hours prior to working out and then again within 30 minutes after working out. Some examples of good protein sources include red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils and quinoa. Remember, the portion size for meat is only about the size of a deck of cards. For nuts and nut butters, a portion size is approximately 2 Tbsp for nut butters and 4 Tbsp for nuts.
Choose proteins that are unprocessed so you avoid preservatives such as nitrates and excess salt, i.e. deli meats, wieners, sausages.
The bottom line? Eat small amounts of protein over the course of the day, focusing on meals and snacks and before/after workouts. This strategy will maximize the benefits of your workouts and help you achieve your goals.
Pure Nutrition and Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence
© Copyright 2013