Protein Needs – How Much? When? & What Kind?

by Ankur Garg
Protein Needs – How Much? When? & What Kind?

Thank goodness for technology and for the immense amount of information on the net to help us navigate all things food, fitness, fashion and more.  However, this “free” international encyclopedia can also lead many people astray.  It can become quite daunting when one reads about fitness and nutrition for example. There is a smorgasbord of options!  

Rita shares her favorite high protein treat below

Rita shares her favorite high protein treat below

There are supporters of the bodyweight, high rep movement, and those pushing higher weights and low reps. And of course you have movements and groups supporting a combo of both. And then there is yoga, cross fit, long-distance running, HIIT, Zumba, Barre, TRX, and more. Where does one begin? If you have been a fitness fanatic for a while, I am sure you have found your “zone” and what you prefer. I will keep my preferences and “tips” to another post. Let’s first focus on the food world and particularly…..PROTEIN. How much? when? what kinds?  

Just as the exercise world can be overwhelming, so can the world of “nutrition“. In the fitness world, there are many popular lifestyles such as paleo (lithic), vegan, high carb, raw diets, low carb, Keto (genic), IF (intermittent fasting), juicing, vegetarian, IIFYM (If it fits your macros) etc.  They are all SOO very diverse, and each one is almost an “antithesis” of the other- meat versus plant, grain versus “against the grain”, and carbs versus fats.  After trying many of these lifestyles first hand, the one thing that stands out most is a NEED for protein. Lets start with the basics. Don’t worry, this will be simple to read, as I myself was overwhelmed with so much information when I started on my own personal journey. 

There are 3 macronutrients- Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats.
Protein is ESSENTIAL to building muscle. It contains the “building blocks” or foundation of the house. You cannot build a “HOUSE” of iron without the steel, mortar and base. The amino acids (building blocks) which make up protein help support your musculoskeletal system as well as repair muscle micro-tears (which is what happens during resistance training), helps with satiety (paired with a fat, carb), is a “diuretic” food and most importantly, who doesn’t like to sink their teeth into a nice rare steak?  Ok, maybe about a million people. But even those following many other lifestyles, such as vegetarians and vegans,will find higher protein sources of plant (for example hemp, soy, seed and nut) to fulfill their protein needs.
Take a  high carb follower and high fat follower for example, the 2 will disagree on these 2 macros nutrients (fats and carbs) but will find a similar stance on the importance of protein consumption. I personally prefer to get the majority of my protein consumption from animal which provides a complete amino acid profile. I do find that pre and post workout however, I prefer a liquid source for various reasons. One is that I don’t like my digestion to have to “overwork” pre workout and feel too “full.”. I prefer to get in a shake with my vegan vanilla About Time, I love this with a scoop of all natural almond butter and make a type of “pudding”. Perfectly light, perfectly protein-full and gives me the energy I need. Post workout, I also want to relish quickly all of the “damage” done, and nothing is better than a liquid protein and carb source. Why not make up a ripe banana smoothie? One of my faves.
How much protein is enough? 
There is much debate running from a lower end of 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body mass for someone sedentary,  to 1.5 grams per pound for a more avid resistance trainer. Let me tell you just looking at numbers like these when I started out scared the bejeezus out of me. I was eating plates of pasta and buns with prosicutto and cheese, thought that a macronutrient was a disease and god help me with my math skills.  But what I did do, was make sure that I ate smaller quantities more often and had some sort of protein source at each and every meal. I felt that I could ride hunger waves longer, I had way more energy, and slowly my plate was full with less pasta, and more lean beef meatballs! Another easy way for me was to have a protein shake pre and post training to add in more protein and make sure that the 4pm cupboard raid didn’t happen thanks to a “satiated” Rita.
After seeing some results in this “organic” fashion, I decided to track my intake a little more as I wanted more insight into what was going on with my body.  After becoming certified and doing many nutritions courses, I realized how important protein was for all of us, especially as we age. I know I am not a dinosaur, but at 35, the building blocks for my house need to be well planned out in order to keep my house functioning at 100%!  I personally use the 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight with the majority of my clients and myself (my vegan clients have a different breakdown), and this for the most part works really well.  So, at 130 pounds, I ingest approx. 120-140 grams of protein a day! This isn’t that hard when I get 50 grams between my pre and post workout shake! Another great time is pre-bed. Protein paired with a fat (remember that pudding?? great before bed too), is a great way to keep those muscles fueled throughout the night and ensure a great night’s sleep. There is nothing worse than going to bed hungry! 
Remember, if you are new to your fitness journey, start with small steps, incorporate protein with each meal. If you have been at this for a little longer, start tracking your protein intake and make some observations on how you feel on a day where you in ingest more or less. And for all of you professionals out there, I recommend tracking your intake for a week and see if you are hitting your goal! Even us veterans need to check in once and a while! 
Some of my favorite sources of protein are :
petit fillet
ground turkey 
sea bass
flank steak
Vegan Protein powder
Vegan protein pudding topped with cinnamon and walnuts

Vegan protein pudding topped with cinnamon and walnuts

Recipe for Protein Pudding
1 scoop of Vanilla, Cinammon Spice or Chocolate ABOUT TIME VEGAN protein powder
Water (apron 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon of Chunky Almond Butter, PB2 or another Natural Nut butter
2 walnut halves (chopped into tiny pieces)
cocoa powder
In a small dessert bowl, add the protein powder and slowly add in water little by little and stir until you create a “pudding” like consistency. Douse with cinnamon and add the nut butter. Stir well and sprinkle with the walnuts, more cinnamon and cocoa powder! Eat with the smallest tea spoon you can find so it never ends!!!!

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by Ankur Garg


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