Why protein is important when you train – a beginner’s guide

why protein is important

In this post our founder Phil, tries to cut through the science of nutrition and explain why he believes if you can get your protein intake right, the rest of your diet can follow, and you can achieve your fitness goals.

What are the main macronutrients?

In this post we will talk about protein as one of the three macronutrients. When we talk about macronutrients (or “macros”) we mean, Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. These are the three pillars of any diet and are important for the following needs:

  • Protein – Growth and repair
  • Carbohydrate – Your body’s main source of fuel
  • Fats – Often misunderstood fats are essential for your cells to function properly, for absorbing vitamins A, D, E and K and for hormone regulation as well as a further source of fuel

Now that we understand what each of these macros does, we can explore the importance of protein in a diet.

Why is protein so important when you train?

As we’ve already discussed protein is essential for the growth and repair of your body, but we’re actually doing it a disservice. Protein is essential for the transportation of oxygen around the blood (haemoglobin), growth of hair and nails (keratin), your bones, your hormones and creation and repair of muscle fibres.

When we train we actually create microscopic tears in the fibres of our muscles. It’s the act of creating and then repairing these tears that creates muscle mass. When we talk about muscle mass, we don’t just mean the stereotypical bodybuilder, we mean lean muscle mass that is essential for you to perform your workouts, sculpt your body and even improve your metabolism.

Protein and the change from the protein you eat into amino acids, are essential to this repairing process and therefore fundamental to your training goals.

Does it matter when I get my protein?

A consistent supply of protein through the day is most effective for optimum muscle function, and we recommend a protein rich breakfast to start the day and then incorporate some protein into each meal thereafter.

Avoid sugary breakfasts like fruit juices, or granola first thing. These will cause your insulin levels to spike and you’ll get that pre-lunch dip in energy that everyone dreads.

Phil advocates for a morning frittata. Full of protein and fats to get your body started for the day you can add veggies to ensure you’re getting your essential micronutrients too.

How much protein should you be looking to incorporate into your diet?

This building block of our bodies needs to be replenished during the course of a day. A sedentary person should be looking to eat around 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight. When you introduce strength and conditioning training, this can be increased to around 1.4g-2g depending upon your training regime and intensity.

Phil says:

“I’d be happy for a good proportion of my clients to aim for 1.8g per kilo of body weight. This ensures you repair the muscles we will be working and ensuring there is no loss of lean muscle mass which can often happen with dieting.”

In summary

We hope this has been a useful summary for your first foray into thinking about the protein in your diet. Try to incorporate a protein rich breakfast into your routine this week and see how your energy levels feel. Ensure you’re getting your protein throughout the day and work your carbohydrates around your training sessions for maximum benefit.

For more advice on fitness and nutrition, contact Phil for a free consultation.

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