With many athletes trying to build or maintain muscle, questions about protein are plenty. Many athletes wonder when, how much, and from what sources they should be getting their protein. What is the best way to meet their protein needs?
When and How Much
Studies have shown that the class American eating style of minimal protein for breakfast, small amounts of protein for lunch and gigantic portions of protein at dinner is not the most efficient way to feed muscles. Instead, eating 20-30 grams of protein 3 times per day with 10-15 gm protein incorporated into snacks between meals will help the muscles most efficiently process protein and, therefore, build muscle.
There is plenty of literature regarding the benefits of incorporating more plant-based sources of protein versus animal sources. However, this doesn't mean you have to abandon your carnivorous ways and go 100% vegan. Try becoming a "flexitarian". Replace animal proteins with plant proteins only two days per week. Then you can build from there as desired. Some great plant protein sources include beans, lentils, tofu, nuts/nut butters, edemame, and quinoa. Animal proteins such as fried chicken/fish and high-fat beef or steak contain high amounts of saturated fat, which contribute to the development of heart disease. However, lean animal proteins, such as skinless chicken, lean beef and broiled fish can certainly be a part of a healthy performance diet.
Instead of Cheerios and low-fat cow's/soy milk
Try Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, Kashi GoLean cereal, milk
Instead of Apple
Try Apple with handful of unsalted cashews or cheese stick
Instead of Salad with roll and fresh fruit
Try Salad with chicken breast or beans plus unsalted nuts, roll, fresh fruit
Instead of Pretzels
Try Carrots and hummus with hard-boiled egg
Instead of 2 Pork chops, potatoes and veggies
Try 1 Deck of cards-sized pork chop, potatoes, veggies, glass of cow's/soy milk
Or Try Quinoa and black bean tacos, pico de gallo, edemame