Here is a scenario I know you will relate to…
It’s 3:00 P.M. … you haven’t eaten since noon. You are starting to get hungry… tired… still have 2 more hours of work… and on the verge of being hangry! Sound familiar?
Shoot, I am like the guys from the Snickers commercial, not myself when I am hungry.
Not only can going long periods without food affect your mood (and potentially the mood of those around you) ... but can also slow you down on your journey to your goals!
I am sure by this point you have heard “eat 6 times a day” or “eat every 3 to 4 hours.” That is because there is a good reason for that. Now to be clear, yes I understand there are multiple ways to set up your nutrition.
However, my goal is to introduce you to a proven, versatile nutrition strategy that aligns with your goals. All of that and more you'll learn today in Protein 101.
We'll begin our Protein 101 with exactly what protein is and what it does.
Protein, as well as carbs and fat, is one of the three macronutrients your body requires to function optimally. These macronutrients each play a unique role in your overall health and fitness.
Protein itself is often hailed as the body's "building blocks" for good reason. It plays a huge role in the growth, repair, and maintenance of various tissues in your body, including muscles, skin, and even hair.
Additionally, protein is crucial for the production of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. All of these are essential for various bodily functions.
So, as you can imagine, protein is pretty dang important!
To truly grasp the significance of protein, you need to become acquainted with its microscopic units – amino acids. These are the tiny components that make up protein molecules.
Think of amino acids as the alphabet letters, and proteins as the words and sentences they form. There are 20 different amino acids, and their arrangement in protein molecules is what determines the specific role and function of each protein.
Of these 20 amino acids, 9 of them are considered essential. What this means is your body can't produce these 9 essential amino acids by itself. In other words, you have to get them through your nutrition.
This is a big reason why some protein sources are far better than others. Let's talk about what I mean by this...
Complete vs. Incomplete Protein Sources
Not all proteins are created equal. Some sources provide all 9 essential amino acids, earning them the label "complete proteins." These include animal-based sources like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.
On the other hand, plant-based sources like beans, lentils, and grains may lack one or more essential amino acids. Because of this, they are referred to as "incomplete proteins."
However, by combining various plant-based sources, you can still obtain all the essential amino acids your body needs. The only problem with this is the inconvenience and hours of research it would take to make sure you're getting enough of these essential amino acids.
You see, when your body has all 9 essential amino acids, it can stimulate protein synthesis. This is where your body builds proteins for various body tissues like we talked about earlier. Without protein synthesis, there would be big consequences for your overall health and well-being.
But, what does this all have to do with the results you see?
Protein: Your Fitness Ally
In the world of fitness, protein holds a special place. It's often celebrated as a crucial nutrient for those looking to build and maintain lean muscle mass. The same can also be said for those trying to support weight management and enhance recovery after workouts.
As we dive more into Protein 101, we'll explore precisely how protein can be your ally in achieving your fitness goals.
How Protein Can Help With Building Muscle and Losing Fat
Let's say your goal is to build muscle. Well, by getting enough protein, your body is able to retain and build lean muscle tissue. As long as you get enough in one sitting, and as long as all 9 essential amino acids are present, this process can be initiated.
So clearly, protein is important for building muscle. But, what about burning fat? The answer is shocking!
Believe it or not, the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories your body can burn at rest. This is because muscle tissue is metabolically active ... far more than body fat or any other tissue in your body.
So by eating more protein and enhancing lean muscle mass, you can actually build a great foundation for losing body fat.
Not only that, but your body actually burns a bunch of calories from digesting protein. Roughly a third of the calories you consume in protein, your body burns just by digesting it. This is important because weight loss is all about balancing the calories you consume with the calories you burn.
If you burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis, you will lose weight. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Protein happens to be a great nutrient to help maintain this energy balance so you can lose weight.
Last but not least, protein can also be very satiating. That's just a fancy way to say it's very filling. You probably know exactly what I mean if you've ever tried to eat a big steak. After a while, the bites become taxing and your stomach feels full awfully quick.
So if you're someone who deals with hunger pains or cravings while you're trying to lose weight ... eating more protein can be a great way to alleviate the issue.
Really, whether you're trying to build muscle, burn fat, or do a combination of both, protein is going to be important.
Protein 101: Whey Protein
Now that you've got a firm grasp on the importance of protein in your diet ... let's take a closer look at how to use one of the most popular protein supplements – whey protein.
Understanding how to use whey protein and ways to incorporate it into your daily routine can be a game-changer when it comes to the results you see.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a high-quality protein source derived from milk during the cheese-making process. It actually contains all 9 of the essential amino acids, making it an ideal choice for those looking to support muscle growth, recovery, and fat loss.
What most people don't realize is that whey protein can come in different forms. Each of these different forms serves a different purpose as well.
To keep things simple, we'll cover two of the most common forms of whey protein you'll find: Whey Protein Isolate and Protein Concentrate. Here's a quick breakdown of what makes each kind unique...
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is a type of whey protein that has had most of the fats and lactose removed. This allows the protein to be absorbed more quickly which makes it an ideal tool for post-workout recovery. In fact, I pair a whey protein isolate with a high-glycemic carbohydrate for my post-workout routine.
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate, on the other hand, has not been processed to remove the fats and lactose. For the most part, you'll find whey protein concentrate as part of a blend of other protein sources.
These blends are also known as sustained assimilation proteins. This is because they are designed to mimic the digestion of whole-food protein sources. Many people use these as meal replacement shakes for ease and convenience.
How To Use Whey Protein
There are several different ways you can use whey protein and make it work for you and your goals. What matters most is that you're able to get a sufficient amount of protein throughout the day whether you're using a whey protein powder or not.
Post-Workout Recovery: One of the most common times to use whey protein is immediately after your workout. Mixing one or two scoops of a whey protein isolate with water can provide your muscles with the essential amino acids they need to recover and grow. In combination with a rapid-digesting carbohydrate, you have the perfect post-workout combination.
Between Meals/Snacks: If you find yourself between meals and your hunger strikes, a whey protein shake can be a great option. It helps keep your appetite in check while providing your body with a protein boost. In this scenario, I would advise you use a whey protein concentrate or whey protein blend for a slower digestion speed.
In Recipes: Get creative with your whey protein by incorporating it into various recipes. From protein pancakes to smoothie bowls, there are countless ways to infuse your meals with added protein. You can even make delicious, high-protein recipes like cheesecake and ice cream!
How Many Scoops of Protein Can You Have Per Day?
The truth is, there is no universal rule for how many scoops of protein powder you should consume per day. It really just depends on your protein requirements and how much whole-food protein you can eat. Remember that whey protein is a supplement, and should be used to supplement the protein you can't get from whole foods.
I personally have 2 whey protein shakes a day. One of them, I take immediately after my workout. The other one, I take as a midday snack to get me through until dinner. Other times, I use it as a convenient way to make sure I hit my protein goals when I don't have time for a full meal.
Be sure to customize your intake to align with your specific goals and overall nutritional plan. With the right approach, whey protein can become a valuable ally in reaching your fitness goals.
Protein 101: Reaching Your Goals
Now that we've covered the fundamental principles of Protein 101 and you've gained a solid understanding of the pivotal role that protein plays in your fitness journey ... it's time to put this knowledge into action.
If you haven't tracked your protein before ... that's where I'd start if I were you. You can't manage what you can't measure! For a simple way to get started, manage your nutrition, and even get professional help, download the 1st Phorm App.
The 1st Phorm App is the ultimate all-in-one tool to help you reach your fitness goals. You'll even get workout programs inside the app that are catered to your goals. Ready to earn the results you've always wanted? Download the 1st Phorm App and get started today!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches are more than happy to help out. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com anytime!ABOUT THE AUTHOR