You know protein is essential to growth, development and repairing and synthesizing cells. It is, after all, a building block of life itself, so it goes without saying that protein is a key aspect of healthy eating. Getting the protein you need every day is important, but so is making sure that you’re doing it right. If you’re relying on the same old grilled chicken or think a fruit smoothie with a scoop of protein powder is all you need in a post-workout snack, think again. Many people make mistakes in how they get their protein, which could be holding them back. If you’re doing any of the following, it’s time to revamp your habits.
How much protein does a person need? It really depends on the individual and the goals.
Not eating it with every meal and snack
If you’re like most people, you probably get the majority of your protein at night with dinner, whether it’s a serving of quinoa, chicken or steak. There’s nothing exactly wrong with this as far as your health goes, but if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight and stabilize your energy levels, this isn’t the way to go. Women’s Health magazine noted that protein keeps your blood sugar stable throughout the day, helps you feel full and prevents crashes in energy. Aim to get a couple of servings at every meal and with each snack for more balanced energy levels and a steadier appetite.
Eating too much protein after working out
Eating protein after a workout is key to repairing your muscles and helping them grow, but if you eat too much, the excess will get stored in your body as fat, according to Eat This, Not That! Research has shown that eating about 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of working out is all an average 150-pound person needs. If you weigh more or less, your requirements may be different, so ask your health care provider what’s recommended.
Not pairing post-workout protein with carbs
If you’re not eating your protein with carbohydrates after a workout, you may not be reaping all of its benefits. Women’s Health reported that carbs help transport protein’s amino acids to your body’s cells, so without them the amino acids might not reach their destinations. Grab a piece of whole-wheat toast with nut butter or drink some chocolate milk for an ideal post-workout snack.
Relying on the same protein sources
You might think you’re doing well with your diet by sticking to the same meal preparation plan each week, but if you’re not switching up your protein sources, you might not be getting all nine of the amino acids present in a “complete” protein. You might also be missing out on crucial vitamins, minerals, fats and carbs if you eat the same proteins every day, so aim to get a good variety into your meal plan.
Eating too many protein shakes or bars
These quick fixes are convenient if you’re looking for a protein boost on the go, but many protein shakes or bars aren’t really giving you what your body needs. Plus, they might be giving you a lot of ingredients your body definitely doesn’t need, like extra sugar, added chemicals and fat. It’s fine to have one once in a while, but otherwise you’re better off going with healthy protein sources you can incorporate into homemade meals and snacks.