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PROTEIN Protein provides the building blocks to sustain the health of muscle, skeleton, hair, skin, nails and the immune system.


Protein provides the building blocks to sustain the health of muscle, skeleton, hair, skin, nails and the immune system.

Traditionally, targets for protein intake have been set relatively low at approximately 46 grams per day for females and 56 grams per day for males. When considering nutrition for an active lifestyle, the boundaries on protein requirements are pushed and placed at 1.0 grams to 2.0 grams per kilogram of your ideal body weight. This level of intake is not considered a high-protein approach but a moderation of calories between carbohydrates, protein and fat.

As protein supports the immune system, having an adequate intake supports recovery, helping to keep you injury-free and resilient against colds and the flu. An athlete who is frequently injured or sick and is often missing his protein quotas and/or consuming too much sugar.

Foods that are rich in protein include red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes (beans and lentils), cheese, nuts and seeds. In addition, quinoa, oats, hemp and fat-free Greek-style yogurt are all relatively rich in protein. Begin determining an approximation of protein needs with identifying your ideal lean body weight. You should establish a ballpark goal for your weight given your height, gender, age and frame size. Once you have this figure, multiply your ideal weight in kilograms by the factors above (between 1.0 and 2.0) to determine your daily protein requirement in grams. If you only know your weight in pounds, then divide this number by 2.2 to arrive at your kilogram weight before you complete the protein needs calculation.

Where along this continuum you should target will depend on your activity level. If, for example, we apply the intake range to an 80-kilogram man, we'll find that he requires between 80 g and 160 g of protein each day. If he is moderately active (exercising at a moderate or above intensity three times per week), then he should target the middle of the range (80 x 1.5 = 120 g per day). If he is very active (exercising five times per week and working in an active job), then his intake should move toward the upper end of the range.

So that your nutrition is balanced and you create sustained energy, develop a routine that divides protein intake between five or six meals and snacks throughout the day. When each meal and snack contains a protein and a healthy carbohydrate, you will be set to beat cravings that can arise when carbs are overconsumed or nutrient-poor food is plentiful.

Now that you know your needs and are set to meet them throughout the day, let's consider serving sizes. A serving size for animal-sourced protein is three ounces (approximately 100 g) or two eggs, providing about 20 g of protein. A guideline measure for this protein portion is that it is roughly the size of a deck of cards (or for some people, the palm of the hand). I like to translate the daily recommendation into "decks of card-size servings" as it helps people to grasp what they are targeting. If you have a higher lean body target weight, then it is conceivable that you will have to eat 1.5 servings of protein at a meal in order to achieve your goals. When the protein is from plantsourced foods then the serving size measure is typically _ to _ cup for legumes and protein-rich grains. The serving size for nuts and seeds (nut and seed butters) is about one ounce (or 2 Tbsp).

You can consider these servings as contributing to your "deck of cards" count.

One thing to be cautious of when building protein intake is that your fat intake doesn't climb. If you look back at the protein-rich foods, you can see that many of them - meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts - carry fat. When choosing animalsourced protein, make sure you choose lean cuts and cook in ways where the fat can drip away such as roasting, poaching, or barbequing. Although it will be tempting for many, avoid leaning on cheese to build your protein intake, as in most cases, cheese isn't lean and your fat calories will be weighty.

Finally, it is also pertinent to choose animal-derived foods that are antibiotic and hormone-free.

In a time of antibiotic resistance and when the prevalence of hormonal cancers has been on the rise it is important to limit exposure to exogenous sources of these compounds. Similarly, choose proteins that are unprocessed so that you avoid preservatives such as nitrates and excess salt.

This week, let's look to your protein provisions and make sure you are tackling your targets.

- Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence


For the last few weeks, we have discussed the importance of goal-setting, cardiovascular exercise, fat-burning, flexibility, and mobility training. If you haven't been incorporating any resistance training into your workouts to date, this is your week to start! Resistance training is a vitally important aspect of your program, regardless of whether your goals relate to fat loss, increased muscle tone, greater bone density, injury prevention, or improved posture, sports performance, muscle strength or muscle endurance.

Without training, we will lose approximately five per cent of our muscle mass every decade after age 25. Decreased muscle mass has many detrimental consequences, including increased fat gain and slower metabolism, as well as an inability to handle the workload and intensity of daily activities. Resistance training challenges the muscles to be better able to handle the stresses of everyday life, and also increases muscle tone. It is probably not hard to convince you that you should incorporate resistance training if you would like to increase your muscle size or strength, but what if you want to increase your fat loss? Most people tend to focus on cardiovascular exercise and nutrition for fat loss, but be aware that resistance training is necessary to increase your metabolism and caloric expenditure throughout the day.

Many people do not understand the importance of resistance exercises, or they want to wait until they have lost some fat by focusing primarily on cardio training at the beginning of their training program. Without resistance training, injuries can occur because the muscles have not had an opportunity to build a base of strength or endurance.

Do not avoid resistance exercises because you are afraid to look like a huge bodybuilder on the cover of a magazine - it won't happen! But your muscles will look more toned, you will have more energy, activities throughout the day will feel more effortless, and you will stand taller.

Every professional athlete and sports team these days works with a strength and conditioning coach to help them perform better and prevent injury. Consider yourself an athlete who deserves to look good and feel even better. If you're worried about time requirements to incorporate this element into your program and are new to resistance training, even 30 minutes of weights two to three times per week at an appropriate intensity will produce results.

Resistance-training exercises can include many different activities that incorporate body weight, elastic tubing, barbells and dumbbells, medicine balls and kettlebells, or weight-training machines. Choose a weight that allows you to complete anywhere between eight to 20 repetitions of each exercise. Working in the upper end of this rep range (12 to 20 repetitions) will tone your muscles and increase your muscle endurance, while the lower end (eight to 12 repetitions) will increase your muscle size. To begin, it is recommended to choose lighter weights that allow you to train for muscle endurance, and if it suits your goals to build muscle mass, increase your weights after a few weeks so that you can only perform eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise with good technique. Toward the end of each set of repetitions, you should be feeling fatigue and some burning in the muscles you're working; if you complete all of the repetitions and you don't feel fatigue toward the end of your set, you need to increase the weight. If you are unable to complete the desired number of repetitions, or if you have to compromise your technique, body position, or posture to complete your set of repetitions, you will benefit from decreasing the weight so you don't get injured. Ideally, perform two to three sets of each exercise, taking approximately 30 to 60 seconds rest in between sets.