Most people who work out or train for a sport know how important eating enough protein is. Although many know protein is important, many don’t know what kind, how much, and when to eat. Eating protein has many benefits in the body including:
- Functions as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. They are also building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins.
- B vitamins found in this food group serve a variety of functions in the body. They help the body release energy, play a vital role in the function of the nervous system, aid in the formation of red blood cells, and help build tissues.
- Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Many teenage girls and women in their childbearing years have iron-deficiency anemia. They should eat foods high in heme-iron (meats) or eat other non-heme iron containing foods along with a food rich in vitamin C, which can improve absorption of non-heme iron.
Not all protein is created equal. Many foods have protein in them, but unless it’s an animal based protein (meat, dairy, eggs) you aren’t going to be getting the fitness results you want from them. For instance 20 grams of protein from an animal based protein will be much more readily absorbed in the body versus 20 grams of soy or other plant based proteins. If your looking to take advantage of maximally kick starting your muscles recovery process, aim for 20-40 grams of animal based protein per meal. Eating 20-40 grams of protein every 3 hours will ensure that you are allowing your body to optimally recover from the workouts and training you put your body through each week.