Everything A Girl Needs To Know About Protein

Are you working out but still not seeing results? Hayley from Platinum Pilates is here to tell us all about protein consumption for girls and how to make that muscle stay.

Everyday I get asked by my clients ‘what type of protein should I be eating?’, ‘when should I be eating it?’ and ‘how  do I know I am eating the right amount of protein?’ These are all excellent questions as the answers determine how much our body changes. Proteins are essential for reaching our desired bikini body, but what exactly are they? Proteins are the main building blocks of the body. They’re used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin. Proteins are also used to make enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various tiny molecules that serve important functions. Without protein, life as we know it would not be possible. Protein simply builds and repairs the body’s tissues. Your exercise choice determines the area of the body you are challenging and changing but your fuel choice is responsible for repairing the body and it determines the level of change in that area of your body.

The science stuff

Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids, we make 11 of them within our own body and the other 9 are called essential amino acids because your body can’t make them. Animal-based foods contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs, while most plant-based protein sources are low in one or more of the essential amino acids.

Good sources of essential amino acids include:
Lean meat such as beef and pork.
Poultry such as chicken and turkey breasts
Seafood such as tuna steak, salmon
Dairy such as yoghurt and cheese
Eggs

So why is a diet high in protein so good for us anyway. Research has shown that a diet high in lean protein reduces blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Other research finds that diets rich in protein can also help prevent obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes.

Higher protein = lower weight 

High protein foods take more work to digest, metabolize, and use which means you burn more calories processing them. They also take longer to leave your stomach so you will feel fuller sooner and for a longer period of time. The effect has obvious benefits for anyone looking to lose some weight! Protein is also essential for making sure that you lose your fat but not your muscle. Your body uses the amino acids in protein to make lean muscle, which not only makes you stronger and toned but it also means you burn calories even when your not exercising. Unlimitedly this keeps your metabolism ticking over quickly so you can keep burning calories.

Why do you need protein after a workout?

When you workout your muscles are repeatedly contracting resulting in microscopic tears, better known as micro trauma. These microscopic tears are one of the signals that the muscle requires in order to repair during rest. Micro trauma requires repair work immediately following exercise. Recovery is a vital, often overlooked aspect of your workout regimen. It’s very important to let your muscles rest – and replace your “fuel” with the right foods. This is where protein comes into play.

How much protein do YOU need to eat?

Normal, healthy adult women of average size who engage in physical activity should consume approximately 50 to 65 grams of protein daily to remain in optimal health. To be more specific the recommended DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams of protein per pound. For example if you weigh 65kg you should consume 52 grams of protein.

Here is a helpful tip: try and time your workouts so that you are scheduled to be hungry by the time your workout is over. For women trying to lose weight, don’t overestimate how many calories you burn from working out. If losing weight is your goal, don’t aim to eat back the calories that you burn to speed up shedding pounds. Keep your calories under control. Remind yourself is your goal to maintain your weight or lose your weight.

Aim to get a chunk of your protein at breakfast. Altering a night of fasting your sleep your body is running on empty and may start drawing on muscle tissue for fuel if you don’t replenish its protein stores first thing in the morning.

When should you consume protein?

Ideally, you should be consuming protein within 20 minutes of finishing up your workout to achieve maximum results. Depending on your calorie needs, body composition and how intense your workout actually was will decide how much you should be having. By not consuming protein after your workout, you will not reap all the benefits you potentially could be gaining from all your efforts. If you are not going to be able to eat a meal within 20 minutes of working out, bring a protein snack with you.

Are you a calorie counter? 

There are mixed opinions on the benefits of calorie counting as a weight loss tool amongst health and fitness professionals. Protein, carbohydrate, and fat are the three nutrients that provide calories. These calories are used by the body to sustain life by helping to maintain body temperature and facilitating the growth and repair of all organs and tissues.

If you are a proficient calorie counter that’s fine but don’t let it alter your protein intake. Calorie counting does not prioritize protein. Although many find calorie counting an effective tool for weight loss unfortunately it has led to many women perceiving foods that are rich in protein as high in calories or “fattening”.

Most proteins will cost you a few more calories than fruits and veggies will but the truth is if you want your weight and body composition to change they simply must be a priority.

1 gram protein = 4 calories
1 gram carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram fat = 9 calories
1 gram alcohol = 7 calories

If you are results focused then you should be consuming protein after every workout. If you’re strength training and your goal is to tone up, reduce your body fat % or just get a get six-pack, you need a recovery protein snack or meal at hand. Not only is the protein going to help you reach your goals quicker, but it will also provide you with energy post workout to push through the rest of your day.

Good sources of protein

High-Protein Meat:
Steak (Top Or Bottom Round)
Ground Beef (95% Lean)
Pork Chops (Boneless)
High Protein Poultry
Chicken Breast (Boneless And Skinless)
Turkey Breast
High-Protein Seafood:
Yellow fin Tuna
Halibut
Octopus
Sockeye Salmon
Tilapi

High-Protein Dairy:
Greek Yogurt
Cottage Cheese
Swiss Cheese
Eggs
Milk
Soy Milk

High-Protein Canned Foods:
Anchovies
Corned Beef
Light Tuna
Sardines
Navy Beans
Dried Lentils

High-Protein Snacks:
Peanut Butter
Mixed Nuts
Protein Bars
Bean Chips

High-Protein Frozen Foods:
Edamame
Green Peas
Frozen Greek Yogurt
High-Protein Grains
Wheat Germ
Soba Noodles
Quinoa

If you would like to book in for some personal training sessions with Hayley at Platinum Pilates email hayleykillenpt@gmail.com or you can book online at platinumpilates.ie.

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