Optimizing Performance: The Power of Protein
In the journey toward progress and self-improvement, every aspect of our lifestyle plays a crucial role. We’re focused on getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, optimizing our fitness routine, and eating enough fruits and vegetables. Another nutrition topic that has gotten a lot of attention is protein – a core part of our diet associated with improved performance and long-term health. Whether you’re just getting started or working or training for your 100th marathon, protein has performance benefits that can lead you closer to the top of whatever podium you’re shooting for. Let’s delve into the world of protein and unravel how it optimizes performance and contributes to overall health and well-being.
What Does Protein Do in Our Bodies?
Protein is one of the 3 macronutrients in our diet and serves as the building block of life. It plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues including muscle and bone, producing enzymes, and supporting immune function. Whether you're an athlete or simply committed to improving your physical capabilities, here is some protein food for thought:
- Essential for Muscle Repair and Growth: After a rigorous workout or physical activity, your muscles need recovery and repair. Although consuming protein is important throughout the day to promote muscle growth and repair, you should shoot to get some protein in after exercise, especially if you lifted weights. Protein provides the necessary amino acids for muscle protein synthesis, promoting quicker recovery and muscle growth.
- Helps Enhance Strength and Performance: Protein intake for active adults should be higher than people who don’t exercise because the demands of exercise use up some of the protein we consume to build and repair our muscles above and beyond the basic needs of our body. The recommendations for active adults are anywhere from 0.6-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day depending on the type and intensity of exercise you’re doing.
- Timing Protein Intake for Max Benefit Spacing your protein intake into at least 4 different meals or snacks eaten about every 3-4 hours provides a steady a stream of amino acids that your body can use to build muscle and strength after you train, optimizing physical performance and enabling you to push your limits. There is emerging research showing that eating protein before exercise can help fuel exercise and increase utilization of fat during exercise and protein after exercise is important to build muscle and recover. Protein before bed can also help people feel full throughout the night.
- Protein Quality Comes from a Combination of Sources: Protein can come from both animal and plant-based sources. Animal based proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids in the right proportions we need, but different sources of plant-based proteins can come together to provide all 9 amino acids in the right amounts. For example, we use a combination of brown rice and pea protein in Rivalz to improve the amino acid profile above and beyond what you get from pea protein alone.
- Importance of Protein as We Age: The older we get the more difficult it is for our body to digest and absorb protein and our body is less efficient at using the protein we consume. That double whammy means that we should start paying closer attention to getting enough protein, especially if we’re still focused on crushing our fitness goals. I know it seems like the distant future, but research suggests that we lose about 3-8% of our muscle mass per decade after we turn 30!! Part of maintaining muscle is continuing to strength train and the other part is hitting our protein goals at the higher end of the range at 1 gram per pound of body weight.
Conclusion: Propel Your Performance with Protein
Regardless of athletic capabilities, protein contributes to optimizing performance. Getting enough protein helps your muscles reach prime condition, gets you the most from your training sessions, and provides the endurance needed to excel. We should try to prioritize protein when we plan meals and pack snacks for the day. Choosing protein packed snacks like Rivalz with its 8 grams of protein is more than a dietary choice; it's a lifestyle decision that can get you closer to meeting your protein goals.
Fuel your progress. Choose Rivalz.
More about Dr. Emily Fritz:
Dr. Emily Fritz earned her M.S. and Ph.D. at South Dakota State University in Exercise, Nutrition and Food Science. Emily joins Rivalz from her role as VP of Scientific Affairs at the Beachbody Company and is passionate about advancing scientific discovery for companies leading the way in human health and nutrition. In addition to her commercial work, she has authored, presented, and collaborated on many research studies ranging from large National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies to leading student research projects during her time as an Assistant Professor at Simpson College in Indianola, IA.