Think protein is only for gym rats who want to bulk up and build muscle? Think again. Yes, when used alongside resistance training, protein can help increase muscle mass. But no matter who you are, successful weight management requires adequate protein in your diet. Here’s why:
PROTEIN HELPS YOU EAT LESS.
Emerging research shows that consuming adequate amounts of dietary protein can help with appetite control because it promotes the feeling of fullness and reduces the feeling of hunger when compared to carbohydrates or fats. Start your day off with a high-protein breakfast like scrambled eggs with veggies or a healthy Greek yogurt smoothie—it will provide you with fuel and help keep you from snacking on junk food, like you might if you had skipped breakfast. If you don’t have time to cook eggs or haven’t stocked the refrigerator, a protein bar or shake is an easy alternative for when you’re on the go, providing the nutritional benefits you need with minimal prep time.
PROTEIN PLUS EXERCISE HELPS YOUR BODY COMPOSITION.
A lack of protein can lead to excessive protein catabolism, or breakdown, and may obstruct your athletic goals. On the other hand, adequate protein in conjunction with exercise can help you gain lean muscle mass, which give your metabolism a boost. Eating a small amount of protein (5-10 grams) just before working out and consuming a moderate amount (15-20 grams) just after working out will provide amino acids your body needs to repair and build new muscle, which can lead to more satisfying exercise results.
SO, HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?
Aim for 25-30 grams at each major meal to see optimal results. Unsure of what to eat? A 4-oz. chicken breast, one cup of quinoa, five eggs or one cup of low-fat cottage cheese each provide approximately 30 grams of protein. Or, if you’re going the meal replacement shake or bar route, look for products the appropriate amount of protein per serving.