If you are an athlete and want to be successful in your particular field then a healthy intake of proteins and carbohydrates will be an essential part of your exercise nutrition plan.
In this post we take a closer look at proteins which are made up of strings of smaller molecules called amino acids and which are seen as one of the fundamental building blocks of life.
They make hormones, build tissue, make enzymes and are a superb source of energy for athletes.
Build the Best Proteins into Your Exercise Nutrition Regime
Building quality protein into your diet can make all the difference to your athletic performance.
With regard to exercise the benefits of including protein include:
- It can aid fat burning
- It helps with muscle recovery
- It can help heal cuts and wounds
- It can balance out blood sugar levels
- It is essential for brain function
All of the following protein sources will help with your athletic performance and recovery.
The amount of protein you require will depend on whether you require protein for strength related sports such as power-lifting and bodybuilding or endurance related sports such as long-distance running, football, tennis, swimming and cycling.
The following image from MyProtein.com provides an indicative guide as to how intake may differ from sport to sport:
Where ever possible always try to buy the most organic foodstuffs as these will have less “factory-farm” added supplements.
Poultry (chicken and turkey)
Organic chicken and turkey breasts are excellent choices of protein.
They are low in fat (once you get rid of the skin and grill or bake them rather than fry them), high in protein and are available practically anywhere, anytime.
They also be used in a great range of cooking methods such as roasting, broiling, grilling and saute and so meals don’t become monotonous and boring.
You can also buy poultry in ground from and make meat loaf, tacos or burgers out of it. If you are buying ground poultry make sure its breast and does not contain skin, organs and other by-products – only eat quality poultry!
Fish and Shellfish
Seafood is another great protein food.
Good choices of food include salmon, tuna cod, haddock, perch, sea bass, snapper and swordfish.
Shellfish such as prawn, crab and lobster are also high in protein and low in saturated fats.
Baking and grilling fish is again the best way to prepare the food. Leave frying with oils and butter at the door.
Organic Red Meat
High quality grass-fed red meat is lean, high in protein and contains only about 7 percent fat.
Organic grass-fed red meat can make a valuable contribution to your intake of protein as long as it is not overly consumed each week and the levels of saturated fat intake are controlled and kept to a minimum (i.e. once a week).
Sources of red meat that you should source are grass-fed beef, buffalo, venison and even kangaroo!
Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Low-fat cottage cheese is a superb source of protein.
Because it is high in the glutamine amino acids, it helps with muscle metabolism and is excellent at building new and damaged muscle.
Other advantage of low-fat cottage cheese is that its cheap to buy and you do not have to cook it ! As long as you can keep it cool then its very convenient to add to all manner of different meals, shakes salads and dishes.
Egg Whites and Egg Substitutes
Egg whites are a great source of protein to include in your exercise nutrition plan. To add to the mix it also has no cholesterol and zero fat (they are contained in the yolk).
Separating whites from the yolk can be a bit messy and time-consuming but if you can spend the time doing a dozen eggs at the start of the week then its a simple enough chore to reap the benefits.
A number of stores are also now providing cartons of pre-separated egg-whites to save you the bother of separating them out.
Plant-Based Proteins to Include in Your Exercise Nutrition Plan
As well as the above sources of protein, there are also a plethora of other sources many of which are purely plant-based. So if you are vegan/vegetarian, then consuming the following will greatly contribute to your exercise and recovery powers.