One official week of the challenge is complete! Great work on trying to enter everything you put into your mouth – food, drinks, little snacks…keep it up! Remember, consistency is key! If you have a bad meal or a bad day, tomorrow is a new day. 🙂
Last week we talked all about carbohydrates and why they are important for us. We focused on why we really need them as athletes. Now, let’s talk about protein! Many of you are finding it hard to get enough protein in even though you think you eat an adequate amount. Everything changes once you start actually measuring and entering it! If you are grabbing convenience foods or being lazy about your meal prep, sometimes you’re falling short. Well, here is why you don’t want to short your protein intake:
Protein is arguably the most important macronutrient in order for our results to show. As we work out and build muscle, we need the protein to support muscle growth. You can squat, strict pull-up and thruster all-day and still feel like you aren’t making strength gains because you aren’t fueling your body with enough protein.
When we eat protein (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, etc), our body breaks that down into amino acids. We need the amino acids in order to grow and repair our tissue, support our immune system and make essential hormones. They are the building blocks for our body and support our system in many ways including our energy levels!
There are eight “essential” amino acids; this means there are eight amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on its own. We have to consume protein for these essential amino acids. On the other hand, our amazing bodies have the ability to synthesize the remaining (of the 20 total) amino acids even if we don’t consume them.
Plant and animal sources are acceptable forms of these essential amino acids. Animal sources are complete proteins, while plant sources must be eaten in a variety in order to consume all eight.
As athletes, we need more protein because we are building more muscle. If you aren’t supporting your body with adequate protein, you can’t expect to make all those #gains.
What if I just want to lose body fat though? You still need protein. It isn’t going to magically make you big and muscular; you still have to work for it. Since protein consumption regulates your hormones, it’s extremely important for weight loss. When your hormones are off balance, your brain is sending misinformation and you actually think you’re hungry when you’re not, which causes overeating and weight gain. The hormone that increases with higher protein intake is actually a hormone that reduces your hunger (ghrelin) and your satiety hormones (GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin) are also increased.
In conclusion, it’s important to be eating all of your macronutrients. But remember, protein is a building block that will help our muscles grow and help us lose that body fat.
Happy macro-eating! 🙂
-Evan & Maria