Consuming enough protein is vital to achieve our physique goals.
Protein helps to repair and rebuild muscle after weight training to create that toned, shapely look we’re all after. And more muscle also boosts our metabolic rates.
So keep feeding your muscles with a regular protein supply with these handy tips:
1. Don’t just rely on animal products
We all know the major sources of protein come from animals such as beef, fish, chicken, turkey, venison, milk and eggs.
But there’s a whole host of other foods that are also great protein sources. While they may not be as protein-dense as animal products, simply adding one or two of these foods to each meal will significantly increase your protein intake throughout the day.
Plant protein can be found in many sources, including:
- Brown rice
- Soya beans
2. Complement your proteins
A protein’s amino acid profile will determine how much of that protein can effectively be used to help build and repair muscle tissue.
All animal proteins are offer a complete amino acid profile, while most plant-based sources generally contain incomplete proteins.
However, you can combine incomplete proteins sources to create a complete amino acid profile at each meal.
Generally known as complementary proteins, you could combine grains and legumes by eating rice and beans, natural peanut butter on whole-wheat bread or chickpeas with salad and cornbread.
You can also combine grains with nuts and seeds to increase the protein content of your meal by eating a whole-wheat bun with sesame seeds, for example.
3. Drink more protein
Juicing with good sources of vegetable proteins can significantly increase your protein intake. You can also boost the protein content of any ‘juiced’ meal, like a smoothie, by simply adding a scoop or two of a whey or plant protein supplement.
The liquids you use can also boot the drink’s protein content. Coconut milk, for instance, has a much higher protein content than normal milk. Various fortified milk products on the market and various flavoured milks also offer boosted protein contents.
There are also an increasing number of well-formulated ready to drink (RTD) supplement products available on the shelves of retail outlets countrywide. These handy products provide you with highly bioavailable protein in a quick and convenient pre-packaged product to boost protein intake whenever you want.
4. Supplement your way to success
On the subject of supplements, these products offer a convenient, hassle-free way to boost your daily protein intake and ensure you hit your daily recommended intake.
Whey protein supplements offer quality, bioavailable proteins that deliver a complete amino acid profile. You can incorporate them throughout the day to ensure your body gets all the protein it needs at the right time, in the right quantity.
Additional supplements to consider include:
- Branched Chain Amino Acids: They provide your body with the essential building blocks required to create and repair muscle tissue.
- Glutamine. Another important supplement to use to ensure adequate protein intake because, while it’s a non-essential amino acid, heavy training can make it conditionally essential, which means you will need to increase stores directly through your diet.
5. Don’t limit absorption
If you follow these tips, you’ll certainly boost your protein intake, but your results will depend on how much you can effectively absorb?
A meal’s fat content, for instance, can interfere with protein absorption, as gastric emptying is inversely proportional to a meal’s energy content. As meals with high fat contents are extremely energy-dense, they will slow down the rate of gastric emptying.
It is, therefore, often recommended that you limit important meals – breakfast and those before and after training – to carbs and proteins.
Creating a healthy digestive system by supplementing with pre- and probiotics, and eating fibre-rich natural foods can also benefit your protein absorption in the long run.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.