Tag Archives: protein

How Protein Becomes Muscle

29 Sep

Protein consumption, following a workout, is an important component of the muscle and strength building process.  But how, exactly, does the process work?

Here’s a terrific resource from Men’s Health titled, How Protein Becomes Muscle.  This animated video explains the process from ingestion through each subsequent stage — transportresponserepair and growth; and construction.

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Finish Your Workout With Protein

15 May

If you train at my facility, then you know that every training session ends with a reminder to “eat and get your protein.”  And, although protein consumption can come from a variety of sources, whey protein shakes are a quick, convenient, and portable way to ensure that you’re getting an adequate quantity and quality of post-workout protein.

Drink a protein shake right after your workout to aid and facilitate muscle recovery.  Consuming protein, following your workout, “can increase muscle protein synthesis by 100% for up to 24 hours,” says Michael Roussell, PhD and nutritionist.

Additionally, keep in mind that protein consumption should not be limited to post-workout.  To maximize muscle protein synthesis throughout the day, aim to get some protein every three to four hours, including lean protein at every meal or snack.  Research shows that active individuals should get about 0.6-0.8 grams of protein, per pound of body weight, per day.  Competitive athletes may need as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, daily.

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Eat Protein and Produce at Every Meal

26 Apr

Whole foods are best for building muscle, because they contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other micro-nutrients that you don’t always get in supplements.  “If your food used to have a face or grow in the ground, it’s appropriate to eat,” says Bill Hartman, PT, CSCS.

To maximize the impact your diet has on building muscle and getting stronger, make protein and produce the centerpiece of every meal.  Grilled or blackened chicken or salmon, with a side of sautéed broccoli, make a great “go-to” meal, and can be prepared in advance.  Stick with lean protein sources, colorful fruits, and green vegetables.  When preparing your meals, avoid sauces, glazes, and dressings that pack on fat and calories.

Peanut butter (and nuts like almonds, cashews, and pistachios) and Greek yogurt are great choices, convenient, and portable.

For planning purposes, there are some fruits and vegetables that actually retain more of their flavor and nutrients frozen than fresh, including corn, peas, spinach, blueberries, and cherries.

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Spread Out Your Protein

22 Mar

If you want to build muscle, you need to get more protein.  Active individuals should aim for 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  Athletes may need even more.

So, how should you distribute your daily protein intake?

Scientists at Skidmore College (NY) found that individuals who divide their daily protein among six smaller meals, instead of three larger ones, build muscle faster.

Start your day with protein, and try to get more than half of your recommended intake by lunch.  Eggs for breakfast are a quick and easy way to get your morning protein.  Add a mid-morning protein shake, and grilled chicken (or other lean meat) and Greek yogurt for lunch.  Peanut butter is another good way to get your protein with any meal or snack, any time of day.

I like preparing a protein shake — 10-12 oz. of chocolate milk and a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder — and sipping it, throughout the day.  It’s an easy way to add 30-40 grams of protein to my daily intake.

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Get More Protein In Your Diet

13 Mar

Our society is “over-carbohydrated” and “under-proteined.”

Not only do most people not get enough protein in their diets, but their distribution of protein consumption throughout the day is not balanced – relatively little protein with breakfast and lunch, and lots of protein with dinner.

In a University of Texas study, researchers found that muscle protein synthesis—the driving force behind your muscle growth—was 25 percent greater when people ate protein throughout the day (30 grams of protein per meal) compared to those who ate a bulk of their protein at dinner (10 grams for breakfast, 15 grams for lunch, and 65 grams for dinner).

Research indicates that active individuals and athletes should consume at least 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, every day (that’s 90-120 grams of protein a day for a 150-pound person).

For some people, the thought of consuming that much protein in a day can seem overwhelming, but balancing your protein intake throughout the day – along with a little strategic planning and preparation – can simplify the process.

Here’s an article from Men’s Health titled, 13 Easy Ways to Get More Protein In Your Diet.  The article lists several fast and convenient ways to boost your protein intake.

Here’s another resource – a previous blog post – with a simple but effective strategy for increasing your daily protein consumption: Increase Protein Consumption With This Simple Strategy.

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Boost Your Metabolism With These Protein-Rich Foods

2 Nov

Protein-Rich-Foods[1]The benefits of dietary protein are well-documented.  Unfortunately, most of us do not get enough protein in our diets.  It is estimated that we should consume 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, each day, to help protect against age-related muscle loss (that’s 105-140 grams of protein per day for a 175 pound man).  Active individuals should aim for the upper end of this equation, and athletes may need even more.

Additional benefits of adequate dietary protein consumption include:

  • Muscle repair
  • Increases fat-burning
  • Increases satiety (full feeling) after a meal
  • Decreases subsequent energy (calorie) intake
  • Leads to weight loss

I found an interesting article in Prevention magazine that lists several protein-rich food sources that can help you get 20-30 grams of protein at each meal.  I especially like the idea of supplementing your daily protein intake with whey protein powder.  8-10 oz. of milk, mixed with a scoop of whey protein powder, provides 30+ grams of quality protein.  Mix it the night before, then drink it the next day — a few sips, throughout the day — at work, home, school, etc.

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Apple with Peanut Butter: The Ideal Snack

29 Jul

peanut-butter-apples[1]Good nutrition bars are really hard to find (unless, of course, you have access to Whey Better Cookies).  Sure, there are some good ones out there, but most are full of cheap fats, sugars, and unnecessary additives.

The goal should be to find a portable, nutritious snack with a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fat, protein, and 5-10 grams of fiber.  Most of us fall short of the recommended 38 grams of fiber per day.  Fiber is a slow-digesting nutrient that can help you stave off hunger until your next meal.

The next time you’re looking for some grab-and-go nutrition, consider an apple with peanut butter (1.5 Tbsp):

  • 240 calories
  • 8 g protein
  • 30 g carbohydrates (6 g fiber, 21 g sugars)
  • 12 g fats

It just may be the ideal snack.

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Upgrade Your Diet with Flaxseed

20 May

flaxseed-ground[1]Flaxseed my be one of the healthiest plant-based foods on earth.  It is a rich source of the healthy fats, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA).  Flaxseed has been around for centuries, and boasts several health benefits.  It is a good source of:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (one serving of ground flaxseed can provide almost 3000 mg of Omega-3)  Your body cannot make Omega-3, so they must be consumed as part of your daily diet.
  • Protein (3 grams per serving)
  • Fiber (4 grams of dietary fiber per serving)
  • Lignans (potent antioxidants that can reduce cell damage)

Health benefits of flaxseed include:

  • Maintains healthy cholesterol levels.  Flaxseed is associated with reductions in total cholesterol and LDL.
  • Helps with weight control
  • Works as a natural laxative
  • Fights depression (DHA is a “mood boosting” ingredient that is essential for proper brain cell function); diabetes (helps lower blood sugar); and cancer (ALA has shown promise as a cancer-fighting agent)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Improves immune function

Ground flaxseed is recommended over whole because it is digested more easily, thereby providing the most benefit. Add ground flaxseed to the following foods (and more) to improve their nutritional content:

  • Oatmeal and other cereals
  • Protein shakes and smoothies
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Pancake mix
  • Breads and muffins
  • Soups and salads
  • Condiments and dressings
  • Hamburger and meatloaf
  • Breading for chicken and fish

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Strength Training as an Injury Prevention Strategy

6 Apr

24-pro-foam-roll[1]While it’s impossible to prevent every injury, research shows that strength training can help individuals reduce the incidence and severity of injury.  Here are a few tips that can improve your odds of making your body injury-proof.

Fuel Your Workout

Strength training requires energy.  Everyone’s different but, as a general rule, you should eat a balanced, light meal or snack 30-90 minutes prior to working out.  Aim for a carbohydrate to protein ratio of about 3:1.

Warm-up

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we prefer a dynamic warm-up (no stretching) to prepare for our workouts.  Using light-to-moderate weight, try doing kettlebell swings or a barbell (or dumbbell) complex.  Body-weight exercises — like burpees — will work, too.  You can also do a lighter warm-up set prior to any exercise in your regimen.

Do It Right

Don’t cheat by only pushing or pulling half-way, and don’t get so enamored with the amount of weight you lift that you sacrifice proper technique in the process.  Lift and lower the weight (or your body) through the entire, intended range-of-motion.

Push and Pull

Agonist-antagonist paired sets help to ensure that you’re developing muscular balance and joint stability, in addition to strength, by exercising opposing muscle groups (for example, the bench press and row).

Stretch… After

Post-workout stretching helps to relax and elongate muscles.  Stretching also facilitates oxygenation and nutrient uptake in muscle cells.

Foam Roll (pictured)

If you’ve never tried a foam roll massage, it’s a must.  The foam roll uses your body weight and position to deliver a deep-tissue massage.  They’re available, inexpensively, and most come with an instructional DVD.

Refuel

Post-workout nutrition should be consumed within 30 minutes of your workout.  Your body needs carbs to replenish muscle glycogen stores (think of glycogen as stored energy) and protein (preferably whey) to rebuild muscle.  16-18 ounces of chocolate milk is a great choice.

Rest

It’s the rest days between workouts that help your muscles grow bigger and stronger.  Allow a rest day between training days.  Rest (including adequate sleep) is essential to the recovery/regeneration process.

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5 Tips to Boost Your Metabolism

28 Mar

5-Tips-To-Boost-Your-Metabolism_1024x1024[1]Here’s a nice article from our friends and colleagues at ASD Performance.

  1. ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST

Eat a good breakfast. Every. Single. Day. If you don’t, your body goes into starvation mode which in turn causes your metabolism to slow in order to conserve energy. And the heartier your first meal is, the better. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that volunteers who reported regularly skipping breakfast had 4.5 times the risk of obesity as those who took the time to eat.

      2. DRINK COFFEE:

A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee increased 16 percent over that of those who drank decaf.

  1. RELAX:

Research is now showing that high levels of stress in in fact contributing to to weight gain. When you are stressed, your body will increase your stress hormone cortisol, which stimulates fat cells to increase in size and encourage fat storage. Stress hormones can also spike your appetite, making you likely to overeat or stress eat.

     4. PICK UP THE PROTEIN:

Cramming protein into every meal helps to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat does, even at rest. Aim for about 30 grams of protein — the equivalent of about one cup of low-fat cottage cheese or a four-ounce boneless chicken breast — at each meal.

  1. CHOOSE ORGANIC PRODUCE:

Researchers in Canada found that dieters with the most organochlorides (chemicals found in pesticides) stored in their fat cells were the most susceptible to disruptions in mitochondrial activity and thyroid function. Translation: Their metabolism stalled.

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