What are proteins?
Proteins are vital components of every organ and action within your body, without them we would simply not be able to function.
All proteins are made up of different building blocks called amino acids, there are 20 in total.
9 of them are called essential amino acids because our bodies cannot produce them and without them we are not able to synthesise the remaining 11 non-essential amino acids.
Your body cannot make many of the amino acids on its own unless complete proteins are present in your diet.
In the absence of protein, the human body will cannibalize it’s own lean muscle mass and organs, and experience a weakened immune system, poor performance, and inadequate recovery and fitness response.
There are 2 types of proteins: Complete – contains all 9 essential amino acids. The diagram below shows a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids
Examples of complete proteins are eggs, meat, poultry, dairy, fish, soy foods, soy milk and tofu.
Incomplete – does NOT contain all 9 essential amino acids. The diagram below shows an incomplete protein without all 9 essential amino acids.
Examples of incomplete proteins are nuts, vegetables, pulses, cereals and grains like wheat, rye, oats, rice, bread and pasta.
Now, some of the incomplete proteins above contain some amino acids which the other ones do not. So, you can combine different incomplete proteins to make complete proteins. For example the diagram below shows 2 incomplete proteins but if we merge them both together it will contain all 9 essential amino acids to make a complete protein.
The best combinations for making complete proteins are:
Rice and pulses
Vegetables and seeds
Nuts and vegetables
Grains and pulses
Where can you get protein?
A lot of people think that you can only get protein from meat, that’s not true! While healthy cold- water fish, free range chicken, lean beef, and even pork are all complete amino acid sources, it’s often not practical to eat these immediately after a workout, especially during the “20 minute post- exercise window” (where it is vital to consume protein to help rebuild muscle tissues and help the recovery process).
Instead, you could think about using protein sources such as whey, rice, hemp or soy protein powder, all of which can be mixed in fruit, water, or milk and consumed as a post exercise treat.
Real whole grain foods such as quinoa and millet are very easy to prepare and offer an impressive protein profile.
When should you eat protein?
Try to avoid eating proteins closer than 2 hours before exercise. Proteins will draw water and blood into the stomach, and can potentially inhibit intense exercise performance or cause gastric distress. Due to increased time of gastric emptying and digestion, any complete proteins should instead be eaten at least 2 hours prior or immediately after a workout. Try to consume about 20 grams of protein within 20 minutes of finishing your workout to help rebuild and repair muscle tissues as soon as possible (you can easily get this with Reflex protein powder. It is easily mixed with water or milk and supplies you with the right nutrients for fat loss and muscle recovery after a strenuous workout. You can buy it on the Amazon widget on the right of this page>>>).
Proteins really only need to be consumed during a workout if an exercise session is lasting more than 2 hours, as the body may begin to rely on protein as a fuel source.
How much protein do I need?
Although the recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of your body weight, very active individuals, people attempting fat loss or lean muscle gain, or athletes may need as much as 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight. For example if you weigh 70kg you will need up to 140g of protein on a daily basis.
So, now you should have a better idea of what types of proteins you should eat, when you should eat those proteins, and how much protein to consume!