Anyone who takes up a new training routine knows that they need to also increase their intake of protein in order to back up the work they do in the gym. While working out in the gym is what strains the muscle and triggers them to need to repair themselves, it is the protein that the body uses in order to repair the muscles and to build them back larger and stronger. Essentially the idea here is that you work your muscles and cause ‘microtears’ which are breaks in the muscle fibre, and that you then eat protein which the body uses in order to repair the tears in the fibres and build them back thicker so that your muscle slowly begins to appear larger. Without the protein, your muscle won’t be able to grow and will instead simply suffer damage from the workout.
As such, the more you workout, the more protein you need to eat. You can be mostly confident that this protein won’t be converted into fat too, as this takes up a lot of energy and protein is only very rarely ever converted this way.
The question is though – how do you go about getting so much extra protein in your diet? Of course there are many different ways and we will look at those here in order to find the most appropriate…
Eating eggs: Eggs are a fantastic source of protein – the reason being that they contain all 27 known amino acids which are used to make repairs around our body, which very few alternative sources of protein do. This is because there are many amino acids in both the white and the yolk and these then act as having two separate protein sources. Eating eggs however of course raises cholesterol so consuming them in huge quantities is not really recommended. While salmonella from raw eggs is no longer a big issue, raw eggs can cause what’s called a ‘biotin’ deficiency which will result in your body building less muscle, and as a result it’s advisable to avoid eating too many raw eggs too (though raw eggs have slightly more bio-available protein than cooked ones). True hardcore bodybuilders will avoid eating the fatty yolk, but this is a mistake bearing in mind what was mentioned earlier. At the same time they might also eat the shell, which is another source of protein and also a very good source of calcium – though it doesn’t taste the best. It’s actually possible too to buy ‘egg protein shakes’.
Tuna: Tuna is a fantastic all round super-food that is very high in bio-available protein, and that is also full of omega 3 fatty acid which is good for your joints, your lifespan, your IQ and memory and your skin. It can be eaten in many different ways and most people would choose tuna over raw egg or dry chicken. To make it tastier you can try mixing it with chopped tomatoes which is a fantastic source of vitamins and of more antioxidants and which won’t add any fat to your protein intake. However consuming tuna in very vast quantities is not really recommended as it can contain traces of mercury, which in large quantities can be poisonous.
Whey protein: Whey protein is the most common form of protein shake and uses ‘whey’ which is a by-product of the cheese fermenting process – as a source of protein. This then normally mixes with milk or water for what tastes like a milkshake – normally fairly low in calories and highly available for use by the body. As bodybuilding supplements go this one is the most widely used, and will digest very quickly meaning it can be used as your post-workout booster.
Casein: Casein is a different type of supplement which unlike whey protein will digest very slowly. This makes it great as the supplement to use before bed as it will give you a steady supply of protein and amino acids throughout the night while your body is focused on repairing itself and building muscle.
Soy: Soy protein is the protein shake of choice for vegan vegetarians, the reason being that it is derived from plants meaning there are no eggs or dairy products involved. Unfortunately it is not quite as good for absorption and bioavailability as whey or egg protein however.
Chicken: Chicken is a good source of protein if it’s lean and can be eaten with steamed rice or a range of other sides in order to make a full meal. It is fairly expensive to eat in large quantities however.
When choosing how you are going to increase your intake of protein it is best to think outside of the box and not to think in terms of eating just a single source of protein. By getting different forms of protein throughout the day it is possible to ensure that you get all 27 amino acids (which aren’t even available from most protein shakes) and to spread your costs. Timing these correctly can also help you to make the most from each different protein source. As a suggestion then, try having eggs first thing in the morning (raw or otherwise), chicken or tuna at lunch, a whey protein after workouts and a casein protein before bed. This will give you the best combination of proteins throughout the day.
Other supplements can also further improve the effectiveness of your protein intake. For example, anabolic flavones (methoxy and ecdy) will help your body synthesise the protein you consume. HMB has also been shown to have similar results, and testosterone boosters can also help you to do more with the protein you get.