"How do I build muscle?"
"Eat more protein!"
"I want to lose weight what should I do?"
"Eat more protein!"
"Eat more protein" seems to be a very common answer to a wide variety of nutritional questions. Protein is a killer nutrient as it can function as the building blocks of muscle, a source of energy (via its eventual conversion to glucose or ATP), and because the body has the "hardest" time converting protein to stored fat (compared to carbohydrates or fat).
With all the press that protein receives in the fitness world it is amazing how often people make basic mistakes in their nutritional plan in regards to protein consumption. Here are the three protein commandments that I make sure to discuss with all my clients.
3 Protein Commandments
1. Thou Shalt Consume Sufficient Quantity of Protein.
As I said before eating enough protein is very important. I recommend that people should consume at least 30% of their total calories from protein. Here's a chart to help you determine how much protein you need.
To figure this out you multiply your total caloric intake by 30% (or 0.3). This gives you the number of calories consumed from protein. Next divide that number by 4. You divide it by 4 because there are 4 calories in each gram of protein. There will be times when you may need to consume more than 30% of your calories from protein but this is a good place to start.
When people go on low carbohydrate diets they have a tendency to greatly increase their protein intake. They can actually increase their protein intake too much! When on a low/very low carbohydrate diet it is important that you body becomes accustomed to using fat as a fuel instead of glucose (sugar).
But if your protein intake is too high then excess protein will get turned into glucose (by the liver) and your body will not fully adapt to using fat as a fuel. If you are trying to get into ketosis but are having trouble or if you aren't losing body fat on a very low carbohydrate diet you may want to decrease your protein intake and increase your fat intake.
2. Thou Shalt Pay Attention To Protein Timing.
The benefits of eating 5-7 meals throughout the day have been written on more times than Lee Priest has closed down an all you can eat buffet so I won't rehash all the reasons why it is important. But I will show you how to take this concept one step further by adding a layer of nutrient timing.
During certain times of the day your body needs more protein than at other times. When are these times? The three most important times for protein consumption are:
- First thing in the morning
- During and After your workout
- Before Bed
Instead of spacing your protein consumption out evenly throughout the day make sure you pay close attention to consuming extra protein at these times. In the morning you need a protein boost as your body hasn't had any amino acids in 5-9 hours. Extra protein around your workout is important to boost protein synthesis and halt muscle breakdown.
Finally before you go to bed at night consuming slower digesting proteins will allow for your blood amino acid levels to be elevated for several hours while you sleep (this is important for increased protein synthesis).
During the rest of the day continued protein consumption is still important to keep blood amino acid levels elevated so don't neglect your amino acid fix every 2-3 hours.
I am not a fan of waking up in the middle of the night to eat. Proper, restful, uninterrupted sleep is an extremely important and often overlooked factor building muscle and staying healthy. Waking up in the middle of the night to eat may cause a boost in protein synthesis but it also interrupts your sleep cycle.
Instead I recommend people keep BCAA tabs next to their bed with a glass of water in case they do wake up during the night. If you do wake up then before you go back to bed pop a couple grams of BCAA and head back to sleep. With this approach you will maximize your recovery from sleep and boost protein synthesis and muscle growth on nights that you happen to wake up.
BCAA Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
3. Thou Shalt Eat a Variety Of Protein.
If you are going to eat a lot of protein then variety is very important. Getting all your protein from chicken breasts and chocolate whey protein might be fine for a couple weeks but if you are trying to make lifelong changes. Many people get stuck eating the same foods to meet their protein needs - chicken breasts, canned tuna, egg whites, and whey protein - because, "That's what bodybuilders eat."
Here are some more great protein choices that will keep your taste buds happy and your muscles growing:
- Chicken Breasts
- Canned Tuna
- Egg Whites
- Whey Protein
- Tuna Steaks
- Pork Chops
- Pork Loin
- Extra Lean Ground Turkey
- Turkey Breast
- Extra Lean Turkey Ham
- Lean Chicken/Turkey Sausages
- Flank Steak
- Top Round (Beef)
- Extra Lean Ground Beef
- Hydrolyzed Whey (great for during your workout)
- Whey/Casein Blends
As you can see your protein options are almost endless (I didn't even get in to all the flavors of protein powder that are now available).
Follow these protein commandments and you will be well on your way to maximizing the benefits from protein consumption.
What Are BodySpace Members Taking?
What types of protein are the members of BodySpace taking?
Beast: - Bodyspace
Protein: PrimaForce Substance WPI
Started: Aug 24, 2006
Reason: Best tasting chocolate protein powder on the market!
Abyss: - Bodyspace
Goal: "My goal is to be at 210lbs at 10% BF. Hoping to there get there soon!"
Protein: Egg Whites International 100% Pure Liquid Egg Whites
Started: Jun 02, 2006
Reason: Its great because eggs are so much easier to eat.
Gettin_big: - Bodyspace
Goal: "210lbs at 7% Then maintain."
Protein: Optimum 100% Whey Protein
Started: Jan 01, 2004
Reason: During workouts, and whenever I don't have time to fix a proper meal.