A question I'm asked a lot by my clients.
Protein is an essential nutrient, responsible for multiple functions in your body, including building tissue, cells and muscle, as well as making hormones and antibodies. Everyone needs protein in their diet, but if you do endurance sports or weight training you may benefit from increasing your protein intake. Studies also suggest that as we get older we may benefit from eating more protein because it helps minimise the muscle loss associated with aging.
One of the main issues with our Western diet is that often, our breakfasts and lunches are low in protein but high in carbohydrates, with a protein-packed evening meal. It is better to aim to spread your protein intake out throughout the day. So, consider the balance on your plate each time you sit down to eat.
A portion of protein at each meal should fit in the palm of your hand. But make sure you're eating the right protein, not processed foods. It is always better to get your protein from natural foods rather than supplements, because food contains a whole lot more than just protein. It’s full of other nutritional goodies like vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Post exercise there is a simple rule I follow. Carbohydrate replenishes energy (so is needed post exercise), protein is for growth and repair. So you need to eat a combination of the two within two hours of working out.
A few tips on upping your protein:
- Replace cereals for breakfast with eggs - scrambled, poached or an omelette perhaps?
- Fish and seafood are good sources of protein and are typically low in fat. While slightly higher in fat than other varieties, salmon packs in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce joint stiffness and inflammation
- Consider having a meat-free day once a week getting protein from pulses and beans instead of meat and fish. They are also a useful plant source of iron and and are rich in fibre
- When you do eat meat, opt for lean protein from white meat poultry such as chicken and turkey
- Nuts and seeds are a practical protein choice if you’re on the move but stop at a handful!
For examples of high protein snacks try here.
I hope this is helpful but for more information just send me an email or text!