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The Power of Protein & Amino Acids

Protein is important for building muscle and for recovery after exercise.  It’s also a nutrient most people enjoy sinking their teeth into—carnivore and vegan alike.  The good news: protein is widely distributed in the food we eat making it incredibly easy to ingest ample amounts.  Here are some frequently asked questions and answers for matters pertaining to protein.


Why do I need protein?
Protein is one of the three major calorie-providing nutrients in human nutrition.  Alongside carbohydrate and fat, protein completes the trifecta of nourishment for overall health maintenance, growth, and recovery.  Protein is also crucial in helping bolster the immune system and the work of hormones in the body.  Moreover, protein foods are substantive vehicles for essential vitamins and minerals.  Beef, for example, is superior source of vitamin B12, zinc, and iron and beans are high in fiber, antioxidants, and folate.


How much protein do I need? 
Protein is easy to find and synonymous with hearty foods, such as steak and poultry.  It’s also found in eggs, low-fat dairy, beans, nuts and nut spreads, tofu, and grains (e.g., cereals and breads).  The amount you need is dependent upon health status and activity levels.   Sedentary individuals and those who exercise casually need 0.8 grams to 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight while more serious athletes may require anywhere from 1.0 grams to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.  This works out to approximately 20 to 40 grams of protein before and/or immediately after resistance training and 10 to 20 grams after cardio/aerobic exercise.

When should I eat protein for my workout?
Resistance training calls for protein before your work out and possibly another serving immediately upon completion.  Individuals engaging in cardiovascular/aerobic routines should plan for a post workout snack containing protein.

What foods have 8-10 grams of protein?
1 cup of milk
1 cup of kefir
1.5 ounces of cooked meat
1 jumbo egg (white and yolk)
3 large egg whites
1.5 ounces low-fat mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons of peanut butter
1.5 ounces cooked 95% lean ground beef
1.5 ounces chicken breast
A Registered Dietitian or a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics can assess your unique needs and provide you with personalized guidance. 

References:
American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, American College of Sports Medicine. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance.  J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109:509-527


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