We all know what a struggle it can be to consume all the protein our bodies need to grow on a daily basis.
It can be physically exhausting to have to eat every three hours to bump up your daily protein intake to recommended levels in order to keep muscles growing and build a great physique. However, with these handy tips you can take some of the burden out of your eating regime while still boosting your daily protein intake.
Don’t just rely on animal products
We all know the major sources of protein come from animals such as beef, fish, chicken, turkey, venison, milk and eggs. However, there is a whole host of foods that are also great sources of protein. While they may not be as protein-dense as animal products, simply adding one or two of these foods to each meal will significantly increase your protein intake throughout the day. Protein can be found in many grains and a number of plant sources. Quinoa, brown rice and oats, for example, are great additions to any high protein meal, while good plant sources of protein include avocado, peas, lentils, soya beans, beetroot and miso soup. You can also snack on various nuts like almonds, seeds and coconuts, which all have above average protein contents.
Get creative with protein sources
The amino acid profile of a protein source will determine how much of that protein can effectively be used to help build and repair muscle tissue. All animal protein is considered a good source of complete proteins, while the plant-based sources such as grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetables are generally all incomplete protein sources. However, with a little education and understanding you can combine these incomplete protein sources to create complimentary proteins that will ensure you’re getting a complete amino acid profile at each meal, especially if you aren’t eating a portion of animal proteins. For example, you could combine grains and legumes by eating rice and beans, natural peanut butter on whole-wheat bread or chickpeas with salad and cornbread. You can also combine grains with nuts and seeds to increase the protein content of your meal by eating a whole-wheat bun with sesame seeds or rice cakes with natural peanut butter.
Drink more protein
Juicing with good sources of vegetable proteins can significantly increase your protein intake without the physical burden of eating the corresponding amount of food. You can also boost the protein content of any ‘juiced’ meal by simply adding a few egg whites or a scoop or two of whey protein. You can also make educated choices on the liquids you drink to get in more protein per glass. Coconut milk, for instance, has a much higher protein content than normal milk. Various fortified milk products on the market like Milo and various flavoured milks also offer boosted protein contents and provide added minerals and vitamins. There are also an increasing number of well formulated ready to drink (RTD) supplement products available on the shelves of retail outlets countrywide. These handy products provide you with highly bioavailable protein in a quick and convenient pre-packaged product to boost protein intake whenever you want.
Watch out for fat
The fat content of the food you eat can interfere with the rate of protein absorption, as gastric emptying is inversely proportional to the energy content of a meal. As meals with high fat contents are extremely energy-dense they will slow down the rate of gastric emptying, which is a rate limiting step for the absorption of protein. Therefore, if you slow down gastric emptying you slow down every subsequent step in the digestion process, including protein absorption. So limit your intake of high-fat foods when eating high protein meals, especially after exercise.
We have already mentioned the use of supplements like whey and RTDs, but this point cannot be stressed enough. Using well formulated supplements is the ideal way to boost your daily protein intake without all the stress and hassle it places on you and your body. Whey protein supplements offer high quality bioavailable proteins that deliver a complete amino-acid profile. They can therefore be used at specific times of the day to ensure your body gets all the protein it needs at the right time, in the right quantity. Supplementing with Branched Chain Amino Acids also ensures you are providing your body with the essential building blocks required to create and repair muscle tissue. Glutamine is another important supplement to use to ensure adequate protein intake because, while it’s a non-essential amino acid, heavy training can make it conditionally essential, which means you will need to increase stores directly through your diet.