If you’ve been anywhere near the fitness industry for the past year or so, chances are you’ve heard about protein. Or, you’ve heard plenty of facts and figures from people who THINK they know all about protein, at least! As the fashion in fitness leans more towards being strong rather than skinny (a very welcome trend), more and more of us are looking at protein as a tool to help us build up our physique. But what exactly is it, and how can we get more of it? Read on for a definitive guide on everything you need to know about protein.
What on earth is it?
In basic terms, protein is an amino acid the body needs to complete a variety of different functions. In fact, it’s pretty hard to think of a bodily function that doesn’t require at least a bit of protein. It is needed for a healthy digestive system, brain function, hormone signaling and of course, muscle growth and protection. When we consume food or a drink with a high protein content, the body breaks down these amino acids and then distributes them to whatever function they are required for.
How else does it benefit us?
As well as helping us to perform basic everyday functions, protein is a pretty unique compound due to its ability to keep us fuller for longer. Yes, most of us are educated in the fact that carbohydrates are the prime energy source in our diets, and they are what we should use to bulk out the majority of all meals. While it is true that we need carbs, especially before a workout, protein is actually what stops those hunger pangs from hitting us midway through the day.
Where can I get more of it?
For those of us who have become used to heavily carb laden meals, introducing more protein can be a little tricky at first. But it is relatively easy to work more protein into your diet and can be done so with some pretty tasty foods too. Fresh fish and lean meats like chicken and turkey are prime sources of protein, as are eggs and green leafy vegetables. If you’re in a hurry and can’t make a full meal, why not try one of the many great protein shakes that are on the market these days. If you’re in any doubt over which ones to choose, read this Testofuel Review for a little more insight into how these things work. Protein bars are also perfect for a little pre-gym pick me up.
Can I have too much of it?
Yes and no. A very high protein diet is unlikely to have any hugely adverse effects on your health, but there will come the point where it simply stops having an effect on you. Plus, a lot of people who embark on high protein diets end up becoming deficient in other areas, such as in carbohydrates or essential vitamins. The amount of protein you need to consume will largely depend on your activity levels, so consult a dietician if you need further advice.