Consuming foods high in protein before and after you exercise promotes the growth of muscle. Protein isn’t the only factor in muscle growth though, although it plays a big part in it. Be sure that you’re consuming enough carbohydrates and calories too.
I try to eat low-fat, high protein meats, such as shrimp and fish and poultry before and after each workout. I’ll eat something like a chicken sandwich or some steamed shrimp and crackers approximately 3 hours before a workout to give my body the protein it needs to repair my muscles. The added carbohydrates from the grains provide additional energy to increase performance.
I’ll also eat a protein only meal within three or four hours of the exercise. Some people will drink protein shakes of some sort as well, but I prefer to keep my diet natural. Your body naturally converts the foods in your stomach before stored nutrients, so it’s important to make sure you give your metabolism the path of least resistance when it’s supporting your body. This will lead to optimum gains.
High Protein Foods
Some of the following are great high protein, low-fat foods:
- Lean Steak or Hamburger – be careful with red meat and pork, because they often contain excess fat. Make sure your meat is lean.
- Shrimp and Fish – Most seafood is the leanest of meat and also contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which are good for you.
- Chicken, Turkey, or other Poultry – This is a great alternative to seafood if you don’t like the taste of fish. It is probably to most common high protein, low fat meat.
- Milk and Eggs – This is a great alternative to meats, especially if you’re vegetarian.
- Cheeses – As a rule of thumb, the harder a cheese is, the higher it’s protein content.
- Tempeh and Tofu – Great vegan sources of protein. There is little to know saturated fat in most vegan options as well.
- Beans, Nuts, and Seeds – Per calorie, these have much lower protein content that the foods above, but are great alternatives for vegans.
Most high-protein food, in moderation, are quite good for you. They’re great supplements to salads and sandwiches, but be careful about your choices, because many high protein foods can also be high in saturated fats. Red meat, I’m looking at you.
Try to stay away from processed meats like peperoni and sausage, because they’re usually augmented with excess fat and carbohydrates, which convert to hydrated body fat quite easily. You don’t want hydrated body fat, by the way.
There are many diets that focus on completely replacing most other foods with high protein, no carb food. Those diets promote weight loss, but at the cost of your overall fitness. Be careful about the luster of such diets. We all want to look great, but you should feel great too.
Like all changes in behavior, give this a try for a few weeks and see what kind of muscle gains you get. I suspect that if you’re true to the change you will see some great improvements in your muscle building efforts.