Six Things You Should Know About Protein
If you're new to the fitness lifestyle, you may wonder why protein is talked about so often. You see protein products just about everywhere, including protein bars, protein shakes, and even cookie dough with high protein content.
If you're curious about why protein is so important to physical fitness and how much of it you need, these questions and answers should help you understand more about this critical nutritional component:
What is protein?
Protein is an important nutrient found in many foods. Protein is key to building muscle mass, and that's why so many fitness-related snacks and drinks have high protein content.
What else does protein do?
In addition to being a critical building block for muscle, protein also performs a number of other vital functions. It helps to produce healthy bones and cartilage, and it also helps keep blood healthy. Protein is also essential to having healthy hair, skin, and nails.
On top of all that, protein is essential to the body's healing process and also can help with libido problems among men and hormone regulation among women.
Why does my trainer want me to consume protein after a workout?
Protein helps with the body's healing process. Working out involves tearing muscles down to build them back stronger. Protein helps this process by giving the body what it needs to rebuild muscles and help the body recover after a workout. Exercise experts recommend eating protein bars or other sources of protein within an hour after your workout.
What are some common protein sources?
Meats like turkey, chicken, and beef are sources of protein, but vegetarians and vegans also have a variety of great sources of protein to choose. Peas and soy contain significant amounts of protein, and there are a growing number of healthy energy bars
on the market acceptable to vegetarians and vegans.
How much protein should I eat?
Experts suggest that you get 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories from protein. In general, a safe level of protein ranges from .08 grams of protein for about every two pounds of body weight. Active athletes may need up to 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. It's a good idea to get between 20 and 30 grams of protein per meal. If you're increasing your protein intake, you'll need to watch calories and carbohydrates to ensure that you're not consuming too many, as they can lead to excessive weight gain.
Is there a such thing as too much protein?
Yes. If you eat too many calorie-containing foods, even if they're also high in protein, you're going to gain weight. Also, excess protein intake can cause a number of problems, include gastric distress and kidney issues. Before embarking on a high protein diet, consult with your doctor and/or a nutrition and fitness expert.
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