Friday, April 5, 2013

*UPDATED* PROTEIN!!! Why is it so important!? How much is enough?

When you think of PROTEIN do you think of muscle-head body builders? Well don't, because protein is important for EVERYONE, but it's easier to get enough of your daily requirement than you think.

First of all, let's discuss why protein is important to your body.

Protein is a major functional and structural component for cell growth. It provides the body with roughly 10-15% of our dietary energy. We need protein for growth and repair of everything from hair and nails to muscles. Have you ever lifted heavy and felt sore the next day or so? This is because when you lift moderate-to-heavy weights, you make little tiny tears in your muscles. Don't freak out, that's not a bad thing, your body will repair itself if it is given the right Fuel. Protein is essential to help repair those tiny tears and help promote muscle growth. That's why muscles essentially get bigger over time with training, because you break them down by lifting and your body + protein help to build the muscles up bigger and stronger. Make sure you get your protein in within 15 - 30 minutes of strength training.
This being said, LADIES: do not fear the protein. Consuming protein is not going to turn you into a body builder with huge muscles, that takes a lot of work and dedication. You always hear women saying: I don't want to bulk up. Well, good news: IT IS EXTREMELY HARD FOR WOMEN TO GET BIG! Women lack the testosterone levels that men have, which is why men see muscle growth much faster than females.
Another note, it is important to give your muscles rest from lifting. If you lift total body Monday, you need to save 48 hours before lifting again. Otherwise, those tiny tears do not get repaired and more & more tears are made, essentially weakening your muscles instead of repairing them. This is why people often break up lifting into muscle groups. If you lift chest on Monday, you can lift Back/Biceps on Tuesday. Everyone's routine will be different. Just don't work the same muscle groups on consecutive days.
Proteins are made up of amino acids, some of these amino acids are essential to our body because they cannot be produced or stored in our body, so they have to come from our diet. When you think of protein do you think of red meat? almonds? eggs? Protein can come from many sources either plants or animals. Eggs contain all 8 essential amino acids, so they are a perfect source of protein. However, you would have to eat like 8 a day to get all your protein you need, so make sure your diet is well-balanced and you will be able to obtain all the protein you need. Most plant-based proteins do not contain all of the essential amino acids so it is really important for vegans and vegetarians to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure they get all the amino acids that the body cannot make. Foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, & leafy vegetables should all be staples for a vegetarian diet.

How much protein do we really need?

RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for protein set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is 0.8g/kg per day for adults 19+.
Note: 1 KG = 2.2 LBS

Ages 1-3 years: 1.05 g/kg/day
Ages 4-13 years: .95 g/kg/day
Ages 14-18: .85 g/kg/day
Pregnant Women: 1.1 g/kg/day
Lactating Women: 1.3 g/kg/day
If you exercise & strength train often- you may want to up your protein 15-20 grams and get these extra grams post-workout.
"The International Society of Sports Nutrition states that protein needs for athletes are greater than the needs for more sedentary individuals. For every pound of body weight, an athlete should strive to consume between 0.64 to 0.9 grams of protein daily. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners and cyclists, should aim for the lower range of this scale, while strength-training athletes, such as power lifters and bodybuilders, should aim for the higher range."
Log your food intake for 3 days using an App for your smartphone or online with an app such as, MyFitnessPal, - Are you getting the required protein? If you are not, you need to add in some protein rich foods to your diet!

What are some good protein sources?

Obviously, whey protein shakes are a great way to go, the recipes for these are endless. Just google "protein shake recipes" you'll find plenty to try! You can just mix protein + water/almond milk or make a shake! However, these shakes need to be considered snacks and should not be consumed with meals if weight loss is your goal. I remember in grad school, I thought I was being really healthy by having a chocolate protein shake with my breakfast every morning, but was actually just hurting my weight loss goal, because I was only ADDING calories instead of replacing a snack.
Here are some great protein rich snacks for you to try. Get creative!

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake:1 scoop vanilla whey protein1 Tbs peanut butter
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 frozen banana
Mix all together in blender & top with 1/2 TBS ground flax seed

1/2 cup cottage cheese, reduced fat
1/2 cup fresh fruit (bananas, mixed berries, etc)
1Tbs ground flax seed

Almonds or pistachios (portion them out) 1/4 cup is usually the serving.

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds have about 14 g protein and you can totally make them yourself after carving that pumpkin!
Celery + natural peanut butter or almond butter + almonds
Chocolate Milk - YES! Perfect carb:protein ratio!
Greek Yogurt Parfait: 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup berries
1 Tbs sliced almonds
1TBS ground flax seed

Protein Pancakes:
4 egg whites
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: add 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein
Mix together cook on med-low heat - top with fresh berries and bananas!
Another great recipe from the greatist:
Blueberry Flax Microwave Muffins:
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs ground flax seed
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp olive oil
2 egg whites
sprinkle sugar or stevia
Cook on high for 50-60 seconds! BOOM.

Click here for some more pre/post workout snacks!

Happy Friday, everyone!!
I'm fighting a nasty sinus and chest cold so I'm trying to rest and refuel my body. My boyfriend and I are heading to Georgia for my best friend's brother's wedding this weekend, I'm so excited to see my best friend and her family. Her name is Amanda, and her little sister called her "Nanny" and me "Apple" when she was little and both of our nicknames have stuck. We've been best friends since we were 3 years old, that 23+ years of friendship. She is the best friend a girl could EVER ask for, this is us below a few months ago when she came to Raleigh to visit.

I will be packing healthy meals for the drive because I am determined to plan for success and not succumb to the wrath of the Wendy's dollar menu, lol. Travelling does not give you an excuse to eat bad, you need to plan ahead and make this healthy lifestyle a priority. LOVE your body & treat it right!
Xo- April

1 comment: