Protein is essential for muscles growth and development, and when eaten the right way it can make your recovery process a lot easier after a tough training session. If you are not getting enough protein then you are going to struggle to gain, let alone maintain, lean muscle mass.
There are lots of mixed messages out there when it comes to protein and just how you should be eating it and when, it can get quite confusing. So I thought I would share some of the common mistakes people make when it comes to eating protein so that you can make sure you are getting the most out of this essential nutrient.
Overloading on protein after a workout - There is this push (most likely from the protein supplement world) that you need to pack in loads of protein after each workout. Yes protein is important, and is essential when it comes to repairing and rebuilding torn muscles fibres. However as long as you are getting enough protein during your other meals, then you should not need to stress too much about your post workout meal. Even though there is nothing wrong with a protein shake after a workout, a balanced diet should have you covered, and a protein shake is only packing you full of extra calories. So it is a good idea to assess the rest of your diet to decide if a protein kick after your workout is really necessary.
Focusing too much on complete proteins - Often people get too worked up on eating complete protein sources. This isn’t unreasonable, considering that complete protein sources provide you with all 9 essential amino acids that your body cannot synthesize itself. However do not dismiss those incomplete protein sources! Coupling incomplete protein sources together, will make sure you get all the amino acids you need and you don’t even have to eat them all in one go.
Using too many processed forms of protein - I have always said, fresh is best. Make sure you are not relying on processed forms of protein, such as powders and bars, as these often have added nasties that you don’t need. Try to incorporate plenty of fish, meats, tempeh, dairy, legumes, grains and seeds so that you can get your protein as nature intended! The other advantage to eating protein from natural sources is all the other nutrients that come with it!
Eating all your protein in one go - Ideally you should be consuming small amounts of protein with each meal throughout the day. This ensures that your body has a steady supply, whilst also making sure it has the time needed to break it down and utilize it. So, space out your protein. I personally work best on 4-5 small meals a day, with some protein as part of each one.
If you follow these simple tips, then you can be happy knowing you are providing your body with all the amino acids you need to help build and maintain a strong and capable body!