As you go about your workout program, one thing that you will need to take into account is how much protein you’re consuming on a day to day basis. Lack of protein is one of the biggest nutritional mistakes that you could make as it’ll not only slow down your speed of recovery, but it will also impact your strength gains.
Those who aren’t eating enough protein are more prone to feeling weak and tired after their workouts, never really feeling like they are making progress.
This said, not all protein sources in the diet are created equally. For best results, you’ll want to turn to the highest quality of protein available. Which options are best?
Let’s take a closer look at the best protein sources for active individuals to consume.
Perhaps the best protein option to take is in salmon, which is rich not only in protein, but also omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for keeping your heart and brain healthy, for boosting insulin sensitivity, and for keeping your body recovering well after a workout as well.
Salmon is a high quality source of protein that will keep you feeling satisfied for hours after you consume it. Try serving it up at least twice per week for best results.
The next high quality source of protein to take in regularly is chicken. Chicken is great because it’s low fat, highly versatile, and relatively cost effective as well, making it a great option for those trying to stick to a food budget.
Chicken also works well frozen, so it’s very easy to grill up 8-10 chicken breasts, freeze whatever you don’t eat, and you’ll have an instant meal ready in seconds when you need it.
Chicken breast can be grilled, steamed, poached, baked, or stir-fried, giving you plenty of options without getting bored.
Another protein source that often gets shunned because people often think it’s too high in cholesterol are whole eggs. While you don’t want to down a dozen eggs per day, one or two can definitely be a smart part of any diet plan.
The great thing about whole eggs is that by having the yolk, you’ll leave many of the nutrients intact.
You’ll get a good dose of B vitamins, choline, as well as zinc when you eat the yolk, which are all important for active individuals. Choline in particular is important for optimal brain function, so one that you don’t want to fall short in.
Mixing one or two whole eggs along with some whites will help get your protein intake up and ensure that you get the nutrition that you need.
Grass Fed Steak
Grass fed steak is another high quality protein source on the list that you should be focusing on in your diet plan. It’s important to go with grass fed here rather than grain fed whenever possible because grass fed will contain a higher level of the healthy fats, CLA and omega-3 fatty acids. Both of these will help keep you leaner over time, so are key.
Contrast this to grain fed beef, which is higher in unhealthy saturated fat and you can really see the difference.
Steak is an excellent source of protein as it’s slower digesting and will offer a great dose of both zinc as well as iron. Iron is another important mineral for those who are serious about their workout sessions as iron helps increase the total amount of oxygen being transported throughout the body, so can delay fatigue during exercise.
If you aren’t getting enough and are even slightly anemic (deficient in iron), you’ll notice that you run out of ‘gas’ partway through your workout session. Women in particular are at risk of this problem as they’ll lose some iron with each menstrual cycle they have, but yet, they are also the ones most likely to shun red meat.
If you want to optimize your performance, make sure that you are getting red meat in.
Cottage cheese is another high quality protein source that active individuals should consider adding to their diet. The reason this one is so great is because it’s a very slow digesting protein source, so ideal before bed.
Your body is going to go into deep tissue recovery while you sleep, so you want to be sure that it has the amino acids available that are necessary to fuel this recovery.
Cottage cheese also gives you a break from eating meat in your diet, which allows for more variety so you don’t become bored.
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein powder is the final option that you’ll want to take in with your regular diet plan. Whey protein powder is fast and highly versatile, making it a great way to help you meet your protein needs if you are constantly falling short.
You can whip up a protein smoothie with the powder if you prefer, or if you’d rather not drink it, you can easily stir it into oatmeal or yogurt, bake it up into muffins or cookies, or use it to make protein pancakes on a lazy Sunday morning.
Protein powder comes in many varieties, so you can get a faster variety for using right after your workout session or get a slower variety for using during the day. in addition to that, serving whey protein powder between meals tends to help decrease your appetite level, meaning you’ll be less prone to overeating at this main meals. This can help keep your body weight in check.
Finally, whey protein is also great for boosting your immune system, so may help you recover faster between the workout sessions that you’re doing.
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So there you have a closer look at some of the top protein sources for active individuals. Take a look over your diet – are you getting these in? If not, make some changes so they become a regular part of your daily menu.