Macros and Micros are common words we all hear flying around the fitness community, but what are they? Macronutrients are the nutrients we need in large quantities, like carbs, protein and fat. Whereas micro is the opposite… the nutrients we need in small quantities, such as vitamins and minerals. Makes sense doesn’t it? Macro = big and Micro = small! We’ve caught up with the experts from Optimum Nutrition to focus on protein; more specifically, why protein is such an attractive nutrient to active adults and how we utilise it in our diet.
So what actually are proteins and how do they help us?
Firstly let's talk about how protein helps our bodies. There are multiple bodily functions that need protein to happen. These include:
- Maintaining body structure
- Enzyme reactions
- Movement Facilitation
- Transportation of oxygen through the bloodstream
- An energy source
Sounds important huh? Proteins are essentially the body's building blocks. Each protein has a specific combination of amino acids that make it unique. Amino acids can be split into two types: Essential and nonessential. Those essential amino acids are the ones we take in through our diet, and play a vital role in protein synthesis. This is particularly important for active people, as it links directly to supporting muscle repair.
Protein from Foods
As we mentioned above, essential amino acids come from our diet. However, not all foods contain enough or even any protein. The best bet is reaching for complete proteins. This type of food contains all of the essential amino acids you need. Below we have listed some protein rich foods… some are more obvious, some you may be surprised by.
- 140g Chicken Breast = 25g Protein
- 226g Cottage Cheese = 26g Protein
- 150g Edamame = 18g Protein
- 227g Greek Yoghurt = 22g Protein
- 1 Large Egg = 6g Protein
As you can see, the majority of examples above are animal products. Of course, many other plants contain protein; beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds are all good examples. However, these plant proteins don’t contain all of the essential amino acids so are not classed as complete. Fear not, vegetarians and vegans can still ensure they get all of the essential amino acids. For example, the combination of rice and beans is a complete protein. Chilli Con Carne anyone?
Protein & Performance
As mentioned above, protein is super important for protein synthesis, and this is a key component in the progress of your fitness journey. Our muscles are actually made of proteins, and we damage them purposely everytime we exercise. This is why it is important to consume protein between workouts, ideally equally spaced throughout the day. This ensures you get enough amino acids to aid that crucial muscle recovery. For muscle gain, the key is a balanced diet and regular resistance training. If you are struggling to reach those protein requirements, top it up with a protein supplement that helps meet your needs! If you need some guidance, our Village Gym PT’s are experts on tailoring fitness journeys to the needs of the individual!
Types of Protein Shakes And Usage Occasions
It’s always a good idea to have a predetermined amount of protein that you want to consume each day. Protein shakes can help you to reach that target. Whey protein is a rapidly digested protein made from cow’s milk. It makes up roughly 20% of the protein in a glass of milk and contains all of the essential amino acids. Due to whey’s rapid digestion rate, it’s often consumed after exercise, or first thing in the morning, to help support the muscle recovery process.
There’s another milk-based protein known as casein. This makes up the other 80% of the protein in milk and digests more slowly than whey. Micellar casein can deliver amino acids to recovering muscles for hours throughout the night, so we recommend consuming this straight before bed. Casein can also be helpful between meals, to keep hunger at bay and reduce the temptation to reach for a high fat snack.
Thanks to Optimum Nutrition for sharing this protein filled knowledge. Hopefully, this has sparked some motivation to up your fitness game!