The Importance of Protein

If you’re working out, likely you have one of two goals in mind: lose weight, build muscle mass, or both.
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Whatever you’re fitness goals may be, working out alone is not going to get you where you want to be.  Nutrition is also an important part of any fitness regime.  Counting calories, watching your fat intake, avoiding carbohydrates or sugar are all effective ways to help control your diet.  Ok, so that’s talking about what we should NOT be eating…what about what we should be eating?  We all know fruits and vegetables are what our bodies need to stay healthy.   But, have you considered protein?  I always thought that it was only body builders that drank protein shakes before or after their workouts…boy was I wrong!  It is vital to understand the importance of protein in your workout in order to use it effectively.

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Have you been struggling to meet your fitness goals?  It might be due to a lack of protein.  Huh, who knew?  Here are a few reasons why protein is so important according to www.fitday.com:

  • Did you know after water that protein makes up the largest portion of your muscle mass?  About 20% actually.  So, just like your body needs water to function properly, your muscles also need the protein in order to develop and become stronger.
  • Did you know when getting a hard workout in, that you are actually putting small tears in your muscles?  That’s why you’re so sore after a rigorous workout.  So, when you’re body is recovering from a workout, it is your body’s job to repair those muscles.  In order to become more physically fit, we want our muscles to be repaired stronger and more healthy than they were before the workout.  True?  That’s where protein comes in.  The protein you bring in to your body sets about repairing those muscles better than your body can do on its own.
  • So, you’re adding protein to your diet and your muscles are becoming stronger.  Did you know this is helping you to burn excess fat faster and more easily?  It is a known scientific fact that muscle burns calories faster than fat does.  Therefore, even if you haven’t lost all the weight you want, adding protein in will help you build more muscle mass and help you burn that excess fat faster than without additional protein.
  • Also, protein is more filling than other things you might be eating.  So, it won’t be so difficult to trim down the amount of calories you’re consuming if you are adding additional protein in.

So, how do we add more protein into our diets?  Well, protein comes in many forms.  The best, of course, is lean protein you can get from adding chicken, pork or lean cuts of beef into your diet.  Not a huge meat fan (I completely understand)…you can also purchase protein bars and protein powder to use as meal supplements or snacks throughout the day.  There are several brands of each of these which you can purchase at most grocery stores, or places like GNC.  Try a few, pick your favorites.  One small tip when choosing a protein bar, look at the nutritional facts on the back of the bar.  Some tout themselves as being “protein bars”, but really don’t give you a ton of protein, and more sugar than you need in one bar.  So make sure you’re comparing them to really get what you want and need out of each serving.  My favorite protein bars are Think Thin bars (I love the creamy peanut butter ones).  They offer quite a bit of protein and are really tasty.  As far as protein powder, I haven’t tried as many of those, but I do love It Works, ProFit protein powder in chocolate.

One more little tip.  It’s a great idea to eat some protein soon after a workout.  This will put that protein to work immediately to help repair those muscles.  It will also help your body recover more quickly (so you aren’t sore for so long after a good workout).

Happy Fitness!

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