There is a lot of debate about protein as a component of an exercise program, including how much is needed.
Why is protein important?
Protein is a necessary part of any exercise—especially with strength training. It is the building block of muscle tissue because it supplies the muscles with amino acids. These components are necessary to develop and maintain muscle.
Amino acids cannot be made or synthesized by your body. Therefore, you need to consume a sufficient amount of protein when you engage in any kind of exercise program.
The Life Cycle of Protein
Protein is broken down into amino acids and then turned back into protein in order to repair your muscles following a workout.
During exercise (especially aerobic exercise) you burn amino acids. Protein restores these amino acids which enables you to achieve your desired body building results. Protein also helps you lose fat without losing muscle.
Protein Creates Antibodies
In addition to repairing and maintaining muscles, protein creates antibodies to aid in preventing infections and diseases. It also makes hemoglobin which carries oxygen to the muscles and produces enzymes and hormones that regulate body processes.
Should I take lots of protein?
Some body builders subscribe to the theory that if some protein is good, more is better. In addition to a protein rich diet, they feel the need to take protein supplements.
Besides being expensive, protein supplements are not necessary and can actually have an adverse effect on your body.
You can get a sufficient amount of protein from lean meats, milk, yogurt, eggs, salmon, nuts, and soy. You don’t need to supplement your protein intake because it produces amino acids that you don’t need.
Your body still stores these amino acids but they’re stored as fat. Excessive amino acids will also increase your risk of dehydration.
But don’t carbs make a person fat?
It’s a common misconception that carbohydrates are what make you fat. An excessive amount of the wrong carbohydrates (sugars, sweets, soda pop) contributes to weight gain.
You still need carbohydrates so it’s better to consume complex carbohydrates (whole wheat pastas, wheat bread, cereals, and rice). These carbs are necessary to give you a proper energy source.
When your body doesn’t have a sufficient amount of complex carbs, it starts using protein as a source of energy. This is not an efficient metabolic process because your body is using the protein as energy instead of to recover and rebuild muscle tissue.
Some nutritional experts recommend that about 15% of your daily calories come from the protein in foods. When you are active, you might not think this is very much.
If you consume a healthy amount of complex carbohydrates along with the recommended amount of proteins, your body will have sufficient nutrients to sustain your exercise program.