The Basics of Protein 🥩

With the start of the New Year, it serves our community well to start fresh, revisiting the basics of nutrition.

In order to be considered healthy, living a healthful life, we must consume quality foods. The idea of what quality foods are can differ from person to person, based upon our upbringing, our lifestyle, and our education, though overall quality foods tend to refer to foods that are simple, unprocessed, and contain many vitamins and minerals for optimal body function.

Foods can be organized into three main categories known as MACRONUTRIENTS. These three macronutrients are the components of food that are used for energy, bodily repair and growth, and ultimately survival.

This week we are going to focus on the macronutrient known as PROTEIN.

  • What is it? Protein is essentially the building block for our bodies. Proteins contain amino acids which are used for muscle development.

  • Why do we care about it? Protein consumed through the diet is used to help our muscles grow larger and stronger. Without proper muscle growth during the execution of fitness, we risk injury because our bodies may be unable to support high impact movements or heavy weights. Especially in Crossfit, we are constantly pushing our bodies to improve by becoming stronger, faster, and more efficient. This growth and improvement is impossible without adequate protein intake, as our bodies do not manufacture it. 💪🏼

  • What foods contain it? Complete proteins are contained within products such as meat, eggs, soy, and dairy. Incomplete proteins come from sources such as vegetables, nuts, grains, and legumes. Combining a nut or legume with a grain will create a complete protein. When talking animal proteins, ideally leaner proteins (chicken, egg whites, turkey, seafood, soy) should be consumed either more frequently or in higher quantities than fatty proteins (beef, pork, whole eggs). Meatless complete proteins do exist, their overall amount of protein is just lower by volume. See the upcoming video for more on this!

  • When should I eat it? For proper utilization, complete proteins should be consumed every 3-4 hours or sooner. When our bodies go too long without a complete protein source, normal bodily functions must still be completed which forces our bodies to break down our already formed muscle to use as fuel for those functions. Essentially, this undoes the hard work you put in through fitness and eating healthful, quality foods.

As always, if you have any questions about your specific situation and how protein could or should fit into your lifestyle, feel free to track me down at the gym or send an email to emily@crossfitfivecities.com!

(Sources: Smith-Ryan, A. E. & Antonio, J. (2013). Sports nutrition and performance enhancing supplements. Ronkonkoma, NY: Linus Learning.)

Your C5 Nutrition Intern,

Wick