If you want to gain muscle (lean mass), then Rule #1 is Protein, Protein, Protein – But DON’T Binge.
Greetings fellow fitness freaks. I realize that Rule # 1 sounds like a bit of a contradiction, so please allow me to elaborate. You can certainly find a multitude of products out there offering,”180 grams of intense protein power!”, and you’re thinking “Great! I can eat this one bar or shake and be good for the whole day!” Only here’s the problem. The generally accepted standard is that your body can only process around 30 grams of protein at one time. So where do you think the rest of that protein is going? That’s right. Right down the old urination station or to that pesky area just above your belt line snuggled up with all that beer from college. Remember that protein contains calories, so protein without training is fat in the making.
The generally accepted guideline for protein ingestion is about 1 gram of protein per day, per pound of body weight. This means that a person weighing 200 pounds should consume about 200 grams of protein per day. If you divide that 200 grams by the “eat less more often” 6 meals a day, then we’ve determine that they should be getting about 34 grams of protein per meal. I’ve had conversations with many serious weightlifters who will go as high as 1.5 grams of protein per day, per pound of body weight, but in general they’re the type who “live” in the gym. The solution I follow is to ingest about 36 grams of protein every 3 hours throughout the day, as well as ALWAYS in the 30 minute window just following a workout. The timing of the intake is vital, because every time you ingest about 30 grams of protein you trigger a burst of protein synthesis that lasts roughly 3 hours. I’m a total fitness freak about my protein punctuality! I actually have an alarm set on my iphone that goes off at 3 hour intervals reminding me that it’s protein time. The benefit of doing this is that you keep your protein and nitrogen levels up in your muscles, which helps to promote continuous and consistent muscle growth throughout the day.
Keep in mind that protein and workouts go hand-in-hand, so don’t forget to hit the weights. Do you feel that burn after the gym? It’s your muscles screaming for protein! ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS take protein within 30 minutes of completing your workouts!
Preferred Sources of Protein
My preferred source of protein is whey protein powder (I prefer the chocolate, but I usually rotate for the sake of variety). It’s a great means of achieving your recommended daily intake, because it can be consumed in an endless number of ways, it requires no cooking, and it typically reaches the blood stream within a mere 15 minutes. I’ve tried several brands and types of whey protein, and my favorite by far is Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard. It’s great tasting protein without the added sugars and artificial sweeteners that many other brands contain, and it’s also very reasonably priced. I usually just take it by adding a scoop to 7 ounces of milk or water in a shaker between the “regular” mealtimes. By simply consuming a protein shake in the mid-morning, the mid-afternoon, and then in the evening a few hours after dinner, you’re already following the advice of most nutritionists, which is to “eat less more often.” You’re also giving your muscles the fuel they need when they are begging for it most, which is one of the keys to building a leaner and more muscular YOU.
Other ways I use protein powder include:
• Try preparing protein shakes in a blender and add fresh fruit such as a banana (a great source of potassium, which can help prevent post workout muscle cramping), or strawberries for a tasty, healthy treat.
• Adding a scoop to pancake batter to make PROTEIN PANCAKES
• Adding a scoop to your rolled oats for a quick breakfast
Other Preferred Sources:
• Greek Yogurt (170 g, about 12 grams protein, 130 calories)
• Cottage Cheese (4 oz, about 14 grams protein, 120 calories)
• Eggs –I usually prepare with a ratio of 1 egg with yolk to 2 only whites (3, 17 grams protein, 250 calories)
• Chicken Breast– grilled is perfect, definitely not deep-fried (3.5 oz, about 24 grams protein, about 200 calories)
• Tuna (1 can (2.8 oz), about 21 grams of protein, 110 calories)
Dear fellow fitness freaks,
What are some ways (creative and otherwise) you’ve come up with to get your recommended daily protein intake?
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Keep it healthy,
Lean Muscle Matt