Have you ever been at the gym and heard someone talk about needing to have their protein shake or needing their midafternoon protein bar? Normally it’s the muscled out beefcake, and well they need it right, because they want to be huge and jacked? WRONG, we all need it! Whether your goal is to eat healthy and lose a few pounds, or get some new PRs, protein is an essential part of that process.
With every weight you lift in the gym, your muscles and tissues are breaking down. This may sound scary, but the truth is you must do this to build them up stronger. Protein is the nutrient you need to re-build that tissue and muscle. Because your muscles are primarily made of protein, it makes sense that increasing your protein intake can help build muscle and gain strength.
Satisfying Your Hunger
Have you ever had a large dinner followed by dessert, but then an hour later you are hungry again, but can’t believe how that could be possible because of all you ate? Think back, did you eat any protein or just a bunch of nutrient-less foods that, at the time, tasted great but now have left you hungry. If you were to fill your plate with more protein vs. the second dinner roll, you would stay fuller longer because protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates.
We all have stressors outside the gym, and sometimes inside with a bad lifting day or WOD, which can affect our mood. Eating high protein foods can provide your body with amino acids that are needed to balance your hormones and help reduce anxiety. Protein can also help steady your glucose which can help with your moodiness and irritability.
So How Much Protein Do You Need?
The recommended dietary reference intake (DRI) according to the Institute of Medicine is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight for an average sedentary person. For a woman weighing 135lbs that’s close to 49 grams and for a 200lb man, that would be about 73 grams. Keep in mind this is based off of relatively sedentary people. For your own target number, you need to keep in mind your active lifestyle and your goals aka to lose weight, gain muscle, etc..
So take a minute to go online to a calculator such as the IIFIYM one, and take a look at how much protein you should really be getting. I think you might be shocked and need to head out for a steak dinner ASAP!