The big sweating guy in a cutoff muscle shirt slams down a loaded barbell from across the gym sending vibrations though the floor and the sound of clanging steel through the air.
You look over and see him walk directly to his gym bag as he pulls out a shaker bottle with some powder already in it as he heads straight towards the water fountain. As he fills up his bottle you hear a guy behind him ask “What’s in the bottle?” Without any hesitation the large man with the swollen muscles replies, “protein.”
The answer always seems to be protein. Gym newbies to bodybuilders always seem to be talking about protein. They’ll be happy to tell you how much they’re taking, when they’re taking it, what kind they’re taking, and even their favorite flavor.
You might be able to fill an entire conversation with talk of protein yourself but before you do read below for the 101 on everyone’s favorite workout partner.
Protein is a nutrient that the body needs to grow and maintain itself. Next to water, protein is the most plentiful substance in our bodies.
Did You Know – The average human body is approximately 18% protein.
The body needs protein for a number of different things but the ones most athletes are concerned with are growth, repair and energy. Adequate protein intake is important for everyone. The presence of protein at meals and in between meals can provide a satiating effect (feeling of fullness) and help support your strenuous workouts.
Did You Know – Proteins are found in nearly every body part including muscles, organs, bones skin, hair and nails.
If you’re starting a weight management program lean protein fuels your lean body mass and metabolism. The more lean muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be and you will burn more calories.
If you’re an athlete who regularly lifts, protein intake helps maintain positive nitrogen balance in the body. It is a natural source of amino acids which your body consumes during strenuous activity. Getting adequate amounts of protein is crucial to supporting your muscles and keeping your body in positive nitrogen balance. We’ll have more on nitrogen balance later in our series of posts about protein.
Did You Know – Protein is made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms arranged into amino acids linked in a chain.
Finally, there are many sources of high quality protein. Sources include: Meat, fish, poultry, beans, peas, nuts, dairy products, soy products and some seeds, vegetables and grains. High quality protein powders and supplements can also be a convenient way to incorporate protein into your diet.
Keep checking back as we’ll explore protein in even more depth in our next installment on protein. We’ll talk about the different types of protein and which is the best for you and your goals.
What’s your protein target for a day?