How Much Protein Do You Need to Fuel Your Workout
Even if you’re new to working out, chances are you’ve heard about the need to fuel up with protein rich foods. It seems like everyone has an opinion on how much protein to eat and from which foods! There’s no shortage of advice, so we’re here to set the facts straight so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Consider this article your ultimate guide for assessing how much protein you actually need to fuel your workout!
First things first—what even is protein and what does it do for your body? Protein is a macronutrient which helps build and maintain muscle mass. The two other macronutrients are fat and carbohydrates which serve different functions for your body. There are nine essential amino acids your body uses specifically to help repair and build tissue in your body. When a food has all nine essential amino acids, it is considered a “complete protein.”
Most plant-based protein sources do not contain all nine essential amino acids. But new research shows that as long as you’re eating a variety of plant protein sources, your body will do the work of completing proteins for you. That being said, let’s start with making sure you’re eating the right amount of protein per day for your goals and needs.
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How much protein do you need in a day?
A variety of factors will impact the unique amount of protein you need in a day. Think, age, weight, activity levels and more. While this may sound complicated, all you need to do is open up the Fit Body App macro calculator. It’ll ask you all of the above questions, as well as your fitness goals, and calculate your protein needs in a second.
Does my protein intake change on rest days?
As long as you’ve properly calculated your protein needs for your fitness goals, protein intake on workout days won’t differ from rest days. Eating protein throughout the day, even on rest days, is important for maintenance of lean body mass and muscle recovery, according to Kylie Morse, Fit Body App’s in-house Registered Dietitian.
Do I need protein pre or post workout?
A post-workout snack or shake can be beneficial for muscle recovery, notes Morse. She recommends that you try to aim for about 20 to 25 grams of protein consumed within the hour or so of your workout.
Bear in mind that Morse ultimately thinks that total protein distribution, not timing, is more important. “Making sure you are getting protein at each meal/snack throughout the day has been shown to improve muscle synthesis,” Morse said, “as opposed to people who don’t eat much protein at some meals and then try to make up for it by eating a lot of protein during other meals.”
So basically, the key here is to ensure you’re getting enough protein from each meal and snack to hit your goals. And if having protein in the form of a shake, or other snack, post workout helps you achieve this, then that’s great!
Protein sources and how to increase your intake
Now that you know what your protein needs are, your next question might be how to increase your protein intake?! The good news is that increasing your protein intake is easier than you think.
Start slowly — we recommend you increase protein portion sizes by just 0.5 to 1 ounce every meal. Here are some ideas of how to slowly incorporate more protein into every meal of the day.
• Breakfast: Love your usual egg breakfast? Great! Add some egg whites in for even more protein.
• Lunch: If you like a fresh salad at lunch, add in some nuts or edamame for an easy serving of protein.
• Snack: A bowl of Greek yogurt is a delicious, easy way to sneak in more protein. Add in some whey protein to up the ante even more. Tasty berries, optional!
• Dinner: There are a variety of filling, protein rich choices for dinner! Throw in some beans to a stir-fry. Add a serving of lean protein like shrimp or chicken into a soup. Consider tofu if you’re looking for a vegan option.
It isn’t necessary to use protein powder. But, the beauty of a supplement is that it is an easy, fast and consistent way to meet your protein goals. And remember that the Fit Body App also provides meal and snack ideas based on your personal macro needs.
Now you’re fully up to speed on the basics of protein! We’d love to know your favorite protein rich foods and how you’re hitting your protein goals? Share on your FBG Insta and be sure to tag @fitbodyapp so we can see!