DO YOU HAVE BURNING QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS ESSENTIAL BUILDING BLOCK?
If you've spent any time at all in a gym, you've probably seen the big, muscle-bound weightlifters guzzling protein shakes in between sets. If you've been into fitness long enough, you've probably made a protein shake or two of your own. But how does it work inside your body? Why is protein the macronutrient of the year? And what are the best sources of protein that you can incorporate into your diet?
Keep reading, we've got you covered.
Your body uses protein to build important chemicals, enzymes, and hormones that it needs to function properly over time. It also uses protein to build and repair tissues like your muscles after they're damaged during exercise. You're not building muscle in the gym, after all, you're destroying it. While you rest and recover, protein is the material your body uses to rebuild your damaged muscles so that you can get back into the gym stronger. For more on how your body recovers, check out our article on why sleep is crucial to your fitness success.
Unlike fat, your body doesn't keep a reserve stock of protein. So making sure you consume protein at optimal times, depending on your lifestyle, and maintaining certain levels of protein in your bloodstream (again, depending on your lifestyle), are both very important factors to helping you reach your health and fitness goals. The reports that FitTrack Pro provides inform you of two critical health metrics to ensure you're diet is aligned with your lifestyle: Protein weight and muscle mass.
By monitoring these two metrics together, you should be able to determine if your body is responding favorably to your diet and exercise routine.
WHY IS PROTEIN SO POPULAR?
Thanks to the rise of the ketogenic diet, which relies heavily on protein and fat consumption, protein has been thrust further into the limelight than it ever was before. Under ketosis, the human body actually learns to rely on protein and fat as a primary source of fuel instead of carbohydrates, the traditional mainstay in most North American diets. This is why so many foods are now marketed as being high sources of protein. There's also now a general association with high protein diets and increased muscular gains. However, copious amounts of protein won't automatically translate to larger muscles, which is why it's important o monitor your health metrics to see how they respond to changes in diet and routine.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SOURCES OF PROTEIN?
Luckily, protein is relatively easy to come across in the grocery store.
To begin with, you can find a number of protein supplements available that you can use to blend together in "recovery shakes" that will help fuel your body after intense workouts. But there are tons of other ways to incorporate more protein into your everyday diet. Here are some of our top picks:
It's the staple of many a nutritionally-minded diet because of its low-fat content and lean protein that easily absorbs into your body. It's also one of the most versatile meats around and can be found in dishes from almost every culture across the globe. Lastly, chicken is one of the least intimidating proteins to tackle in the kitchen, making it an excellent choice for novice cooks.
Whitefish is our second pick for protein. Like chicken, it's a classic addition to many established diets. Cod, bass, and haddock are some of the more common options. And again, like chicken, this is a relatively easy source of protein that you can incorporate into a number of delicious recipes.
Salmon is a slightly more ambitious endeavor in the kitchen but the payoff is worth any extra stress. Loaded with heart- and brain-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, this is one of the most well-rounded and nutritious sources of protein you could incorporate into your diet.
#4. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
These two share the number four spot in our list of top protein sources because they can both be easily incorporated into any breakfast routine or enjoyed throughout the day as a healthy snack. Mix with granola or fresh fruit for the tastiest results.
#5. Nuts, seeds, and grains.
Peanuts are quite possibly the greatest snack in the world, with their healthy balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, not to mention the wallop of fiber they pack to help you feel fuller longer. Other nuts, like almonds, make tasty additions to salads and other plant-based dishes too. And grains like quinoa and steel-cut oats are often called a superfood for a reason: they're loaded with protein and other valuable nutrients. Just be sure to select the least-processed options you can for any food in this category.
You may have noticed an absence of red meat mentioned in this post. That's because the traditional North American diet is often overloaded with this particular ingredient. While red meat is certainly protein-rich, it's also typically heavily-processed and comes with a heavy dose of fat that may not be so good for you once the meat is cooked. Try to limit red meat consumption to once a week.
Remember, use your FitTrack report to monitor important health metrics like protein rate and muscle mass to ensure that your diet and exercise are optimized and you're properly fueling your health and fitness goals!