NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical or nutritional advice. Always consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.
If you've spent any time at the gym, you've certainly heard talk about proteins and amino acids. Maybe you wondered if increasing your protein intake or taking a supplement would be helpful for your weight loss goals. Maybe someone, like another gym member or an instructor make that suggestion to you. You need to be informed about proteins to make wise decisions about what's for you and what is not.
There are different types of protein in the gym: gainers, builders, and losers. For the purpose of this post, I won't go into all the details of each one. Instead, I prefer to help you eat correctly to accomplish what you need. Always ask your medical provider before using any supplements! The misuse can have disastrous effects on your body. Before you partake, there are some things you should know first.
What are Proteins?
Proteins are building blocks for our bodies. They make up our hair, skin, nails, organs, nervous system, immune system, and blood cells. Protein is a necessary nutrient for the body worth 4 calories per gram. Without it, we would become very ill and eventually die.
There are also different types of proteins called amino acids. Although there are 20 of them, only 8-10 are essential in the human body because we can't make them on our own. Proteins from animal sources are complete proteins that our bodies easily use. Plant proteins, for the most part, are incomplete proteins and must be put together in combinations to form complete proteins. The exceptions are soy, quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seed, and chia seeds. There are also vegan combinations of plant proteins that form complete proteins.
What Proteins Do for You
Besides repairing body cells, they do a lot for us. Hemoglobin transports nutrients and oxygen to our cells. Some act as enzymes which break foods down into usable substances, such as lactase breaking down lactose in milk. They also help our bodies absorb valuable vitamins and minerals. Some are messengers, hormones which send signals for body processes. Others are antibodies that fight infection as a sort of security guard for our bodies. Proteins are amazing in what they do for us.
Your body is a fine machine. Fuel it right! #health #weightloss
Basically, for weight loss and exercise, proteins help regulate the influx of carbohydrates into your body for a longer, steady energy source. It also helps you feel satisfied when you eat a meal. So, you need 30% of your total caloric intake in complete proteins for good health. High protein diets, over 0.8 g/kg have been promoted for weight loss in the recent past. It has been shown to be effective when combined with a lowered carbohydrate diet. This is double the amount of the recommended protein intake for healthy individuals. A moderate increase in protein by 18-20% per day, with a moderately reduced carbohydrate intake showed favorable for lowered body fat and weight maintenance. Before embarking on a low-carb, high protein diet, ask your doctor if it is safe for you. In some cases, it can be very taxing on the kidneys or have other serious side effects. You must couple diet and exercise for the best overall results in weight loss and health maintenance.
What You Need
An hour before your workout, you should have eaten either a modest meal with one serving of carbs, one serving of protein, and some fruits and veggies. If you ate lunch around 12 pm to 1 pm, then a snack containing carbs and lean protein an hour before your workout will help you avoid a blood sugar crash during your exercise session around 5 pm to 6 pm. A nutrition bar like Kashi or Special K is helpfu, or you can try my Power Snack Mix. If you eat less than an hour before your workout, not only will you feel tingling in your hands and feet, but you will be looking for the nearest trashcan or bathroom! Be sensible, keep it low in fat and sugar alcohols, and time it right.
You need protein for muscle recovery and carbs to replenish the blood sugar levels in your body after your workout. If you are a moderate exerciser, an energy bar or my Power Snack Mix works well. You have your carbs stacked for immediate intake, later uptake, and your protein regulator. Eating low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers will also do the trick. It is important, if you do HIIT, Tabatta, Kettlebells, or Bootcamp, you need to refuel with more power, like low fat Greek yogurt, fruit and granola for example. This is a higher glycemic refueling since the glycogen stores in your muscles are depleted and your blood sugar could easily tank. The Greek yogurt has a much higher protein content than regular yogurt. It will aid in tissue repair from the muscle fiber breakdown in your workout. If you are supplementing with protein shakes or bars, then plenty of water is needed to protect your kidneys. You should drink plenty of water, anyway. Your evening meal should consist of lean meat, fish or other complete protein, carbs, and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Fueling your body after your workout is essential to good health and great results!
What You Don't Need
You don't need the latest supplement craze. I know people who peddle such products as Spark, ACE (Appetite Control Energy), Body by Vi, Diet Magic Symmetry, Skinny Body Care, Vemma, to name a few of the earn-money-from-home and get-rich-quick schemes. They may or may not help you. But I can guarantee you, you will be putting your hard-earned money into someone else's pocket when you could use that money for the right foods and your gym membership! Why spend a ridiculous wad of cash like that? If you are struggling to lose weight, a medically supervised plan is best and safest. There are a number of great plans at hospitals and medical centers. Check with your insurance company to find out if they cover it.
Your health trumps being skinny any day. Be informed before you try something someone at the gym recommends. Talk to your doctor about it before you try it. Take care of your body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit! You only get this one on this side of Heaven. May God bless you!
ACE Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant Manual, second edition
NETA Fitness Professional's Manual, 4th edition
National Institute of Health