Few of us need to be told why protein plays such an important role in our diets. But getting enough of this ever-so-important nutrient isn’t always easy. That doesn’t make it impossible though. After all, if we hope to be successful in achieving our fitness goals, we won’t get there without discipline and demonstrating an ability to plan.
There will always be some form of “busyness” in our lives. If it isn’t our careers, then it’ll be our families or our social lives. Here’s the point - if you plan to start eating sensibly only after your schedule clears up, it’s more likely that you’ll end up sticking with the same old diet. And that means missing out on the many advantages of a diet that’s stocked with rich sources of protein.
Personal trainers and fitness professionals are addressing this problem by encouraging their clients to be more proactive in understanding their own nutrition, including the benefits of a protein-rich diet. Not only can such a diet help you stave off degenerative diseases like high blood pressure and osteoporosis, it can also help you transform your body into a calorie-burning machine via the growth of lean muscle mass.
As you read further, you’ll discover that getting the proper amount of protein in your diet isn’t so difficult after all. The trick is supplementing your diet with protein from quality sources, and not letting your harried lifestyle limit your accessibility to these sources.
What is Protein?
There are three nutrients that our bodies require in large amounts: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. These are referred to as macronutrients, and all of them are vital to our survival. While all are essential, protein has always played a particularly important role, especially for those of us who prioritize our physical fitness. What makes protein such a special nutrient is that it gives our bodies the resources that it needs to build healthier and stronger bones and muscles. In other words, protein can be a factor in living a higher quality lifestyle.
Protein is a nutrient that’s made up of complex molecules called amino acids - often referred to as the building blocks of life. Our bodies use these building blocks in developing strong, lean muscle tissue and bones. In fact, we came upon a marvelous description that we’re compelled to share. "…think of amino acids as the cars that make up a train. Every car represents an amino acid, but the whole train is what we call protein." Through the act of digestion, protein gets broken up into the amino acids that our bodies can then use to repair and strengthen our bones and muscles.
Without these amino acids in the right amounts, our bodies are subject to experiencing increased levels of fatigue and stunted growth.
How Does Protein Contribute to Muscle Growth & Weight Loss?
The muscle mass in our bodies consists of two things: water and protein fiber. Whenever we do strength training exercises like using free weights, resistance bands, or even push-ups, we are causing microscopic tears to occur within the tissue of our muscles. Protein and amino acids are the crucial resources that our bodies rely upon to repair this damaged tissue; a process that grows and strengthens our muscles over time.
Here’s the science: a workout routine supplemented with the proper amount of protein will not only burn calories while we’re in the gym, but we’ll continue to burn calories after our workouts have ended. Another important point is that muscle mass burns more calories than fat tissue does. Simply speaking, a body with lean muscle mass and less fat tissue enjoys the benefits of a higher metabolism including the ability to burn more calories throughout the day, even while at rest.
How Much Protein Should I Be Getting?
One of the questions that personal trainers hear all too often from their clients is “how much protein do I need to consume in order to achieve my weight loss/fitness goals?” We found that the answer depends a lot on who you ask, but it’s also highly dependent on how active your lifestyle is. One personal trainer operating out of a boutique fitness club in Canary Wharf (London) revealed that protein requirements are actually higher for clients who work out routinely.
Frankly, the more active you are, the more protein your body will need.
In terms of absolutes, one of the more widely accepted resources we found online suggests that people should be aiming for 0.36 grams of protein for each pound they weigh per day. For example, a person who weighs 200 pounds (about 90 kilos) will have a daily protein requirement of just over 70 grams.
I’m Busy! What is the Best Way to get Enough Protein?
Let’s get to brass tacks. You’re busy. Very busy. Here are five of the top tips that dieticians and personal trainers recommend to their clients to ensure they’re supplementing their diets with the proper amount of protein.
Keep protein-rich snacks around the house. Don’t wait until you’re hungry. Beef or turkey jerky is great source of protein and can be eaten on the go. Trail mix is another great source of protein as are some protein snack bars. But do your research. There are a lot of candy bars on the market masquerading as “health” bars.
Eat your protein first! The body requires more energy to digest protein and helps you achieve that “full” feeling sooner. Eating protein first during mealtimes also keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels from rising too high; two weight-regulating hormones that protein can help you keep in check.
Greek yogurt is an outstanding and easily accessible source of quality protein.
Get a carton of eggs to hard boil and then snack on them during the week. A single hard-boiled egg gives your body a full 6-grams of protein. That can cure those hunger pangs until your next meal.
Finally, protein consumption should be a part of every meal.
Personal Trainers Can Offer Nutritional Guidance!
One thing that personal trainers can agree on is the fact that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And there’s nothing to prohibit a trained, certified fitness professional from sharing dietary choices with their clients with the intention of augmenting personal training sessions.
Take a walk amidst the exploding fitness scene in downtown London, especially in the Canary Wharf area, and you’ll see how personal training and boutique fitness centers are becoming a greater part of society’s daily life. That’s largely because personal training has evolved to be a bit more accommodating to society’s busy lifestyles. Working with a personal trainer or belonging to a modern fitness center today means better access to solid expertise on the topics of nutrition and eating healthy. Some gyms even offer a 24-hour support line for clients trying to adhere to their new diets. We discovered that protein plays a marquee role in all of it.