Protein is an essential macronutrient that’s important for fitness, mental health, and longevity. When you’re working out—particularly strength training—protein is even more essential.
The Importance of Protein for Health
The benefits of protein are many. Protein is essential for:
What’s more, it’s important to know that your body cannot make protein on its own. As such, if you’re not eating enough protein, your body will pull protein from protein reservoirs (like your muscles and organs). This not only leads to muscle deterioration, but can be detrimental to your health as well.
Post-Workout Fitness Tip: Eat Some Protein
The amount of protein that you need is dependent upon your muscle mass and your activity level. Athletes need more protein than does the average person; between 1.5 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is usually a sufficient amount. If you’re lifting weights, eat slightly more, especially if you want to build muscle.
For those who are performing chronic cardio exercises, i.e., running miles per day/week, swimming constantly, or biking for long distances at a high heart rate, protein is also extremely important. That’s because the use of the body (especially with a high heart rate) over an extended period of time can lead to lost muscle – eating more protein can prevent off the deterioration of lean muscle mass.
What to Eat, When to Eat It
Most people within the fitness community agree that eating your protein (along with some carbohydrates, but little fat) within 30 to 60 minutes following a workout is ideal. Carbohydrates help to restore depleted glycogen stores; protein will help build muscle (or prevent muscle loss). Eating protein before exercising is also important, too.
Finally, don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to consume a large protein shake – most protein shakes actually are extremely sugar-heavy, and probably contain more protein than your body actually needs. Instead, choose plant-based protein (or animal-based protein if you’re not a vegan/vegetarian). For an easy snack that rich in protein, is gluten-free, raw, vegan, non-GMO, and made from natural ingredients, try protein balls from Sweets Gone Raw.
Just as important as working out is fueling your body – make healthy choices, choose natural foods, and don’t forget to eat your protein!