If you have met me and asked me about my bodybuilding journey or anything related to diet in general, I am pretty sure the first thing that comes out from my mouth is the word, ‘Protein’. And I would not shut up about fitness in general. It’s a work hazard. Not sorry.
Protein is definitely my main source of macronutrients because of my background in bodybuilding, fitness, satiety and just simply enjoyment. To be fair, growing up I did not enjoy eating carbohydrates unless it was a cuppa ice-cream or cookies or a bag of potatoes chips. #Truestory (And I own my truth) But as I dive deeper into my fitness journey, it became clear that meeting my daily macronutrients needs was non-negotiable. Carbohydrates are just as essential for muscle building as much as protein and fats. But today we are only going to focus on Protein.
When it comes to your weight-loss or fat-loss journey. The next thing you usually hear from a trainer is; are you eating enough protein? (Oh, and I talked about ‘What are Calories’ in my previous article too, give it a read, I believe it will definitely give you a better insight on how to embark on your fitness journey without fearing food.)
what are animal-based protein?
What are Protein?
Back to protein. Soo… What is protein? The first thing the comes to mind is usually eggs, dairy, seafood, legumes, meats, nuts and seeds. “Protein is an important macronutrient that is involved in nearly all bodily functions and processes. It plays a key role in exercise recovery and is an essential dietary nutrient for healthy living. Protein and amino acids are primarily used to create bodily tissues, form enzymes and cellular transporters, maintain fluid balance, and more”. (NASM)
Protein is also known to maintain and build lean muscles and it does not immediately store itself as body fat. That is why we always recommend having protein in every meal to ensure that we have sufficient protein to meet our daily intake.
If you have ever been on a diet before, you would know that protein and carbohydrates come hand in hand. Some days carbs are higher than protein aka its pizza night! And then there are days that protein is higher than carbs aka, training days where you got your workout in and you want to be ‘good’ by sticking to your meal plan. With sufficient amount of protein, it helps us to feel satiated because protein usually has a small percentage of fat in it depending on the type of meat you choose from the supermarket.
WARNING: There is not a need to rush to consume protein right after training or a workout. It is debunked. If you are eating consistently throughout the day and not putting your body into starvation mode. Your muscles will not eat itself post-workout if you miss a protein shake. Calm down. The 1-hour window does not really exist.
How much protein do I need to eat in a day?
The amount of protein a person needs depends on their activity level and goals, however, there is a rule-of-thumb to follow. It is recommended your protein intake should be 1g of protein x your body weight in kilograms and adjust accordingly depending on how your body is responding to that protein level.
For example: I am 53 kg x 1g protein = about 53 g of protein
This is what I eat in a day, protein edition:
+ 112 grams of chicken breast no skin = 25 g of protein
+4 eggs with yolk = 24 g of protein
+ 100 grams of tofu = 7g of protein
+ 200 grams of cooked brown rice = 4.6g of protein
when I am preparing for a bikini competition. I want to bulk and eat more protein and keep my calories low, I would have to ensure that I consume most of my calories from protein and increase my protein to 2g x 53 kg = 124 grams of protein a day. I enjoy a high protein diet. It works for my body. Do what work for you, do not follow trends. My suggestion is to track how much protein you eat in a day and adjust accordingly. What your lifestyle and body needs is different from the person sitting next to you.
For beginners, 1 gram of protein per body weight is a good metrics to start from.
Animal-based protein versus plant-based protein.
Food is a personal decision and is rooted in soooo many other aspects of our life that we don’t think of, like culture, habits, parents, upbringing, nostalgia, comfort, memories etc. Not something I can just change for you overnight. When it comes to the source of food, it can be quite sensitive to talk about. To be fair, one source of protein is not better than another source of protein. You got to do what is good for your body and what you enjoy eating. I won’t ask you to chow down 500 grams of chicken down your throat just because I want you to hit your protein goal. You will hate me, throw the chicken in my face and binge on pizza your next meal. The same thing with eating tons of tofu, black beans, legumes etc. my jaw will literally get tired of chewing.
For ethical reasons, we can all benefit from eating less meat. I have cut down on consuming red meat, fish, and pork when I am at home (Sorry chickens…no offense. I like your wings). However, if I am at an event or with a friend, I eat whatever is already on the table (unless I’m on prep for a show, and then I might bring my own food, because goals).
When I am not preparing for a bikini show, my diet becomes more exciting, and I get to throw in a variety of food. Some days I eat tofu instead of chicken and some days I do not even hit my (1.2g) of protein intake because I am trying to eat intuitively.
However, when it comes to your fitness goals, we got to stay discipline, on track and on plan and sometimes it is what digest well for your system and food just becomes fuel for the body.
Above is a comparison of animal-based protein and plant protein options to incorporate into a meal. You can see whether you choose animal or plant protein you will be able to hit your daily protein intake.
Animal proteins are not the gods of all protein in muscle building. Knowledge is. The more research you do, the more understanding you have on the different types of protein you need for your body type, the more food choices you can have when you eat out.
Can you build muscles on a plant-based diet?
Hell yeh you can! You might need to consume more than what you usually eat while on an animal-based diet. For plant-based diet, you will need to eat a greater variety of protein sources, so you cover all your essential amino acids, such as peas, quinoa, sweet potatoes, lentils, beans, etc.
Do you need Supplements?
If you are a beginner and you have just started your fitness journey just 3 months ago or less. The answer is No. you do not need to waste your money on supplements if you are getting your proper nutrition and meeting your daily dietary needs. However, if you are mainly getting your protein from plant, supplements can help ensure that you consume all 9-essential source of amino acids.
Are there any side effects on consuming too much protein?
Dehydration. When consuming high amount of protein, it is important to drink more water too because with high amount of protein in our system, it takes more work for our digestive system to break down protein into aminos. Also, depending on your dietary restrictions and medical history such as kidney stones, kidney diseases, or infections. Check first with your doctor about how much protein you should have in your diet. Another medical condition that can be caused by eating too much protein is Gout, that is usually caused by consuming high amount of red meat and a sedentary lifestyle.
In conclusion, the high protein diet has played a staple role in bodybuilding for several decades, helping individuals to add more muscle while also increasing fat loss. So before i ramble on anymore.
Here are the key takeaways!
- You’re probably not eating enough protein if you aren’t counting
- There is generally no danger to eating more protein if you are active
Source of protein is not as important.
- Plants-based diets can provide all the protein you need.
- Knowledge is power. Try counting your calories and intake for a day or two. That’s it. You’ll learn a lot
Thank you for reading to the end. This end up a little longer than I expected it to be. But I wanted to make sure I got the basis of protein covered!
Hit me up on IG @bernsthefitnerd if you have anymore questions!