Sure protein-enhanced smoothies and shakes stocked with nutritionally-enhanced produce can give you a big boost of the protein needed for rebuilding body tissues and repairing microscopic tears in your muscle fibe…But they can lack other important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals…they don’t leave you feeling full in the same way that a well-rounded meal or snack can…and they also very often contain as much sugar as a soda or candy bar.
So you should try to to get your daily protein through whole foods, even though protein shakes and bars seem so much more convenient.
Most people, regardless of activity level, should be getting between 10 and 15 percent of their daily calories from protein.1.2 grams to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.. For example, the recommended daily amount of protein for a “average” person who weighs 150 pounds is 54 grams.
Optimally you will want to eat six to twenty grams of protein both before and after a strength training session in order to get the most benefit of the session, to help you put on muscle mass, and to recover better. If consuming this much protein is not an option, focus on your pre-workout snack.
This six to twenty grams of protein can be consumed quickly by eating or drinking…
8oz glass prepared protein shake…16 grams protein
1C Greek yogurt…18 grams protein
Toast with peanut butter…12 grams protein
Protein bars (Quest, Luna)…12 grams protein
1 hard-boiled egg…6 grams protein
1 string cheese…8 grams protein
It is best to eat steady, but smaller amounts of potein more frequently throughout the day…ideally 30 to 45 minutes after your workout, an hour later, and maybe another a few hours after that.
It is important to realize that all proteins are created equal. A “complete protein” contains all of the essential amino acids and are most commonly found in animal products…or by combining different foods-such as legumes with grains, or legumes with nuts and seeds.
Even though most of us have been taught that in order to get the nutritional benefit of protein, we must combine incomplete proteins-such as rice and beans-together in order to make them a complete protein…the fact is that as long as enough incomplete protein is consumed through the day your body itself will combine these incomplete proteins into complete proteins and provide all nine of the essential amino acids needed for the day.
Sources of incomplete protein include…
1. All grains (such as oats, rice, pasta, wheat, cornmeal, bulgur, farro, rye, etc.)…such as this gluten-free PROTEIN-PACKED BANANA BREAD
2. Beans and legumes…such as this Buffalo Tempeh Burger
3. Nuts and seeds (such as nut butters and flours, along with seed butters)…like one of these 33 Energy Bites.
4. Some fruit (such as dried fruit, guava, avocado, and others)…like these Homemade Healthy Fruit and Nutty (granola) Protein Bars
5. Some vegetables (such as leafy greens, green peas, broccoli, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, and others)…such as this Avocado Spinach Salad.