4 Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake to Help You Recover From Exercise

Protein is an essential component in many metabolic processes, including cell regeneration, growth and repair of tissue, and many hormonal activities. It is most likely that you have heard of the importance of protein consumption in conjunction with exercise and muscle building.


One of protein's biggest roles is indeed played in growing, repairing, and building muscle. It's important to note that, throughout exercise, our muscles get damaged and ruptured. This is where protein becomes important in recovery. Broken down proteins are called amino acids. The 20 amino acids found in the protein chain are essentially what helps rebuild muscle tissue after rupture. The main component in rebuilding muscle is an amino acid called Leucine. Leucine is mostly found in animal products. This is not to say that a plant-based diet shouldn't be followed, however, it is important to supplement with what may be necessary to obtain all 20 amino acids required for muscle recovery. Here are a few ways to help you increase your protein intake to help with muscle building and recovery.


1. What is protein?


Before anything else, it is important to know where to find protein. Start by reading nutrition labels and look under the protein section. Aim for 20-25g for one portion of protein. Animal products, like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt, etc. are all good forms of a complete protein (containing all 20 amino acids). Plant-based products, like beans, lentils, grains, nuts, seeds, certain vegetables, soy (tofu), etc. are all great sources of protein as well. It is recommended to combine 2-3 plant-based proteins to obtain all 20 amino acids.



2. Have protein at each meal


To ensure that you have enough protein throughout the day, try adding at least one source of protein at each meal. Try having 1/4 of your plate filled with protein to have a full portion.

Example:


Breakfast: Eggs or yogurt (with bread or oatmeal)

Lunch: Beans, lentils, or tofu with nuts and seeds (with quinoa, couscous, and veggies)

Supper: Chicken, fish, or lean meat (with potatoes or rice and veggies).

3. Eat protein before and after working out


A great way to maximize your workouts is to have protein before and after working out. Muscle breakdown and recovery last about 24hrs hours following an intense workout. However, protein is best utilized during and 2-4 hours post-workout. Adding small snacks in between your workouts can help you get those results you are looking for. Here are some examples:


Snack 1: Yogurt + fruits + nuts

Snack 2: Boiled eggs + crackers

Snack 3: Edamame + couscous + veggies

Snack 4: Smoothie with protein powder (vegan or whey) + fruits + almond milk


4. Add protein in sauces, dressings, dips, etc.


Another great strategy to increase protein intake in your daily routine is by adding "hidden" protein to your meals (in sauces, dressings, etc.). Many protein sources can be fillers in recipes and mixes. Adding plain Greek yogurt, blended beans and lentils, or powdered plain protein can easily be added to many mixtures.



For example, you can use plain Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream in many recipes, like mashed potatoes, adding it to tacos, or as a side with nachos, or adding into smoothies. You could also make tzatziki with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Adding protein powder into baked goods as a partial substitute for flour or adding them to your morning oats is also another great way of increasing protein intake.

These are all simple ways to add a bit more protein to your diet to help build and repair muscle. I can guarantee that these simple habits will improve your muscle recovery and promote the results you have been looking for in the gym.

If you would like more information on topics like these, reach out to nutritionist Kelissa Ouellet, at The Gym Melbourne or call to book your free first initial consultation at 0484 391 262 to learn more about her nutrition programs.


Written by:

Kelissa Ouellet

B.Sc, PTS, ICF

Melbourne, AUS

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