The importance of Protein for Muscle Gain is well documented and supported. A high protein diet is also important when you are looking to stay lean. In fact, Protein can act as your secret weapon when it comes to achieving your fat loss goals, whilst retaining and building muscle!
Many people do however still view high protein foods as being high calorie too, or even fattening! This really is not the case, so long as you select lean protein sources. Many people also see protein foods as being inconvenient for taking to work or out and about, as carbohydrate foods tend to be an easier option. This is where preparation comes into its own, and making a little bit of extra effort to prepare better, will ultimately help you make better choices throughout the day.
It is generally viewed that the majority of individuals are not getting the recommended daily amount of protein. It is even argued that the current recommendations are in fact too low! So with that in mind, we are potentially doing ourselves a major disservice when it comes to eating right to achieve what we ultimately want – a lean, muscular physique!
If you want even more convincing, multiple studies have shown that a higher protein diet has helped to reduce blood pressure, LDL (Bad) cholesterol, and fats! It has also been shown to combat obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes.
So how does protein work? From the moment it hits your body, you start to reap the benefits. Protein, compared to carbohydrates, is fairly hard work for your body to digest. This means that your body actually uses more energy (calories) to just break it down – bonus! It also stays around in your stomach for a longer period of time, keeping you feeling full for longer, which will help you stay on plan!
If you imagine Protein as being a pearl necklace. When taken into your body it is broken down into the individual pearls – amino acids. It is these amino acids that then get sent around the body in the blood to perform various tasks within the body. The most relevant role here is their use for building lean muscle tissue. This is what you need to do in order to get stronger and achieve that muscular physique that you’re wanting. This also helps to keep your metabolism turning over, allowing your body to consistently run at a greater fuel consumption, helping you to stay lean.
It is generally advised to aim to take on 30g of protein per meal. This is especially important at breakfast time, where your body has been without fuel for a sustained period of time through the night. If you don’t feed your body with protein at this point, your body may start to break down muscle tissue as a way of sourcing fuel. This is known as becoming catabolic. A high protein breakfast has also shown itself to regulate appetite throughout the rest of your day. This can be tricky when pushed for time in the mornings, so using a shake such as the CNP Pro Diet Whey can help you achieve the nutrients you want without disrupting your busy schedule.
Not all protein is the same though. Protein from food varies as they have different amino acid profiles. Complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids and can be found in foods such as Chicken, Turkey, Seafood, Low Fat Dairy, and Lean Beef. So although vegetables, grains and pulses do have a protein yield, they are inferior to the more superior sources mentioned.
When it comes to supplements, there are also considerations required when selecting the right Protein source. Whey Protein is seen as the most beneficial, but even this comes in different forms that you may want to be aware of. Hydrolysates, Isolates and Concentrates are faster acting, meaning that they are broken down quicker into the blood stream. Milk Protein and Casein are slower acting, meaning that they reach the blood stream in a slower, more sustained release. When looking to build a lean physique, it is important to take on a blend of fast and slow acting proteins, as this will deliver amino acids quickly to where is needed, but also drip feed a slower breakdown, which will help to regulate appetite. This can be very important when you’re trying to stick to your nutrition plan, as clean eating can definitely bring about cravings, especially at the start of your plan.
In summary, the main take home message is to consistently deliver a source of protein into your diet throughout the day. This brings with it a multitude of benefits which can directly facilitate fat loss and muscle gain. Understanding this, and applying it to your everyday life, will ultimately bring about the results you want, and make you feel great!
MSc Sport & Exercise Science
Head of Product Development