What are proteins?
Proteins are organic molecules made up of amino acids – the building blocks of life. These amino acids are joined together by chemical bonds and then folded in different ways to create three-dimensional structures that are important to our body’s functioning.
There are two different types of protein; complete and incomplete proteins.
A protein is deemed incomplete where at least one of the essential amino acids are found in too low a quantity to support basic living functions. By contrast, a complete protein is one that contains adequate portions of those nine amino acids.
How much protein should you eat?
For most people a daily dose of around 0.8-1g of protein per 1kg of body weight is recommended. For weightlifters and strength athletes 1.4 – 2g of protein per kg of body weight is recommended per day, with a recommendation of 1.2-1.6g of protein per kg of body weight per day for endurance athletes. After exercise, protein is particularly important since muscles need it to recover and grow. A portion of protein (15-25g) is recommended within 30 minutes of exercise, when your muscles are particularly receptive to protein synthesis.
Sources of protein
You can get protein from both plant and animal sources – here are some of the best food sources of protein:
We love to cook with them, but how much protein is in an egg? One medium egg has around 6g of protein in an easily digestible form. A healthy omelette is a good way to start the day and is a good recovery snack too.
Dairy foods are packed with protein and contain bone-building calcium, too. Chocolate milk is the age-old recovery food after exercise, since it contains energy-replenishing carbohydrates and a blend of both slow and fast release whey and casein proteins. You can get the same recovery-boosting effects from a milk-based fruit smoothie.
A combination of casein and whey protein, yogurt is a great protein-rich food. Since most of the lactose is removed, it can work for most people who are lactose intolerant.
-Fish and seafood
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.
-Chicken and turkey
Optional Practical Training for lean protein from white meat poultry such as chicken and turkey.
If you’re dairy intolerant, eating soy protein foods such as tofu and soy-based drinks will help post-recovery, plus they can help to lower cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
-Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a practical protein choice if you’re on the move. Around 50 pistachio nuts provides 6g of protein, plus sodium and potassium, the electrolytes lost in sweat during exercise.
Pork contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are key in supporting muscle recovery. Leucine, in particular, makes up one third of muscle protein and helps to stimulate repair after exercise. Pork is one of the richest sources of leucine and therefore a great addition to a post-exercise meal or snack. Eggs, chicken and lean beef also provide good amounts of leucine.
-Beans and pulses
Beans and pulses are great, cheap protein sources. They are also a good source of iron and fibre.