“I don’t have time is just saying it’s not a priority.” – Naval
If you’re going to the gym consistently but not satisfied with the progress you’re making in the form of how your body looks or your strength progression, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough protein in your diet. I see this all the time.
At any given time I am working with a handful of clients on their nutrition. Almost without fail, one of our first priorities when we start tackling goals around losing excess body fat and looking more toned is getting ENOUGH protein, because the majority of us aren’t getting enough in our diet day to day.
How much is enough? Depending on your goals, gender, current body composition and activity level, you should be aiming for between 80-110% of your bodyweight in grams per day. If you’re female, a good rule of thumb is 80-90% of your bodyweight. Men, you should be striving for 90-110% of your weight.
If your goals is to lose body-fat, you should aim for the lower % on that scale so that you’re doing everything that you can to be in a calorie deficit (along with managing your carbs and fat quantities as well). If you’re less focused on losing a dramatic amount of body fat (20-30lbs+), you can aim for the higher percentage if your goal is more focused on recomposition (gaining muscle and losing fat).
Protein plays a crucial role in muscle growth and repair, especially when combined with regular exercise, particularly strength training (we do some of this in Crossfit along with cardio and functional bodyweight exercises). When you exercise, your muscles undergo stress and damage, and protein provides the necessary building blocks to repair and rebuild them.
I often use an analogy with my clients comparing this process to the process of building your dream house. If you hire the builder (go to the gym or hire a trainer), work hard every day (pay contractors to be on site) but don’t consume enough protein, they can’t build the house. In this analogy, protein is the lumber and materials for your home. No matter how many skilled laborers you have, they’re not going to be able to build your home.
Okay, so here’s the nitty gritty on how this process works and the why behind it for all of you nerds out there, like me.
- Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS): Exercise, particularly resistance or strength training, stimulates muscle protein synthesis—the process by which new muscle proteins are produced. Protein intake is essential to support this synthesis and facilitate muscle growth. Consuming an adequate amount of protein after exercise helps stimulate MPS and promotes muscle recovery and growth.
- Amino Acids: Proteins are composed of amino acids, and they are the fundamental components required for muscle repair and growth. Consuming dietary protein provides your body with essential amino acids that are used to rebuild damaged muscle tissue and support the synthesis of new proteins.
- Protein Timing: The timing of protein intake is important for maximizing muscle growth. Consuming protein-rich foods or supplements within a couple of hours after your workout can be beneficial. This post-workout period is often referred to as the “anabolic window” or “muscle protein synthesis window.” During this time, your muscles are more receptive to protein and utilize it more efficiently for muscle repair and growth.
- Protein Quantity: The amount of protein you consume is also important. Generally, athletes and individuals engaged in resistance training may benefit from higher protein intakes compared to sedentary individuals. (Although studies have shown that sedentary individuals, particularly women, who consume a higher protein diet without additional exercise reported weight-loss). The specific protein requirements vary based on factors such as body weight, activity level, training intensity, and overall goals. Aim for a daily protein intake that meets your individual needs and is spread out across your meals. We recommend 30-50g of protein based on the individual.
- Overall Diet: While protein is essential, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet that includes other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). These nutrients work in synergy to support overall health, energy production, and optimal muscle function.
At the end of the day, nothing lives in a vacuum and that includes protein intake. However, we start here to ensure we’re combatting our cravings, reaping the rewards for our hard work and balancing our blood sugar during our meals.
Not sure where to start? Head over to our calendar and book a free call or consultation. We can help.