Protein: The Building Block of Muscle
Protein is very important in any diet, but even more so for people in a weight-loss or weight-training program. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Without protein, muscle tissue will not build. There are many different theories regarding protein intake, but the truth is that your protein consumption should be dependent on your level of activity. Those with higher levels of activity will need more protein, but even sedentary individuals need to get protein in their diets.
We recommend that smaller amounts of protein be consumed at multiple intervals during the day rather than a single, high-protein meal at one point.
Proteins, especially those from meat, contain various toxins that need to be dealt with by the body’s digestive system. The average man should consume 40-50g of protein per meal at each meal throughout the day. The average woman will need slightly less, about 25-35g per meal. This translates to about 4-6oz of meat, or a serving about the size of a deck of cards. For dairy products, check the product label to find out how much a serving should be. When counting protein, only count the main source at a meal. For example, when eating a steak and some vegetables, only count the protein from the steak.
In addition, the protein should be very lean. For meat, get the leanest cut possible. For dairy, try low-fat or non-fat products. It is the cut, not the species that determines the fat content of meat. Always select the leanest cuts. A skinless chicken breast is always a good choice, but a drumstick or thigh would not be. Some people think that ground turkey is always good, but even ground turkey can have more fat in it than extra-lean ground beef.
It is harder for vegetarians to get the protein that they need. Due to the nature of protein, vegetarians will need to consume protein from many different sources to get all of the necessary amino acids. Vegetables and vegetable products are not whole proteins, and as such they lack in amino acids. A dependence on specific foods can lead to an amino deficiency. Eating a variety of foods or using supplements can offset this.