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Protein Intake: Build Muscle and Improve Your Fitness Workout

Protein Intake: Build Muscle and Improve Your Fitness Workout

Are you striving to maximize muscle building and strength gains in your wellness journey? Moving up to a new weight on the floor is always a great feeling. When you get stronger in the studio, you get stronger in your daily life too! All of a sudden you can move the furniture without waiting for someone to help. You can bring in another few bags of groceries in one trip. Clothes look and feel better. Doctors' visits end in high fives and congratulations. Muscle building doesn’t end in the studio, though — what and when you eat and drink the rest of the day matters too. Elevate your performance with the right protein intake.

Did you know that protein is found in every part of your body, including your organs, tissues and even your hormones? Proteins are made from a set of 20 building blocks called amino acids. While your body can make several of these amino acids, nine are considered essential as they can only be obtained through your diet. When all the essential amino acids are present, this is called a “complete” protein.

These essential amino acids also happen to be key players in helping you build and repair muscle after your Orangetheory Fitness workouts. On top of that, it’s also one of the best ways to increase satiety or sense of fullness. It’s much easier to stick to your weight loss and nutrition goals when you aren’t hungry!

How much protein to eat to build muscle?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and American College of Sports Medicine recommend 0.55-0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight for anyone doing endurance or resistance training to build and maintain lean body mass. For a 150-lb. person, that would be about 83-135 grams of protein per day.

Research indicates that you’ll improve muscle gains if you consistently spread your protein throughout the day in meals and snacks. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 0.11 to 0.18 grams of protein per pound of body weight every three to four hours to best support muscle protein synthesis and improve body composition.

For optimal results, time your protein intake within an hour or two after your workouts. This not only fuels immediate recovery but also capitalizes on the extended metabolic effects of exercise, lasting up to 24 hours. By incorporating protein into your meals and snacks, you provide sustained support for muscle repair and growth.

Additionally, for individuals engaged in bulking phases to maximize muscle mass, strategic attention to bulking protein intake becomes crucial. Bulking, which involves a caloric surplus to facilitate muscle growth, demands an increased protein intake to support the elevated energy expenditure and promote optimal muscle protein synthesis.

How Much Protein is Too Much?

Research shows that consuming excessive protein, poses potential health risks. Side effects include kidney strain, digestive discomfort and dehydration due to the increased demand for water in metabolizing excess protein. Moreover, nutrient imbalances may impact bone health over time.

Individual tolerance varies, emphasizing the importance of consulting healthcare or nutrition professionals to establish an appropriate protein intake tailored to specific needs and health status. A balanced diet, incorporating a variety of nutrients from diverse food sources, remains crucial for sustaining overall health and well-being.

What kinds of protein are best?

Animal protein sources such as seafood, eggs, poultry, dairy and meat contain all the amino acids required for optimal muscle building. In addition, these protein sources are easier to process and are more readily absorbed compared with other proteins.

You can also get protein from plants such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy (tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts and soy milk), whole grains and a variety of vegetables. Vegetarian protein sources are an important aspect of a balanced diet, and contain many micronutrients in addition to protein, as well as fiber. Most plant sources are “incomplete” proteins, meaning that some of the essential amino acids are not present. Eating mixed meals throughout the day will help to ensure that you consume all of the essential amino acids. Soy is the major exception to this, as it is a complete plant-based protein.

Types of Protein Powder

Protein powders offer a convenient way to boost protein intake, catering to various preferences and dietary needs. Whey protein, derived from milk, is quickly absorbed, making it ideal for post-workout recovery. Casein protein, also from milk, has a slower absorption rate, suitable for sustained amino acid release, often used before bedtime. Plant-based options, like pea, hemp, rice or soy protein, provide a complete amino acid profile and additional nutrients, making them popular among vegetarians and vegans. The ease of incorporating protein powder into daily routines appeals to individuals seeking efficient ways to support muscle growth, weight management or overall health.

How can you fit your protein needs into your day?

Practical application of these principles involves integrating high-protein snacks like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, low-sugar jerky, tuna and egg whites into your routine, especially before or after an Orangetheory class. For convenience, protein powder is another quick option (whether whey protein, egg protein or plant-based protein), which you can easily make into a shake or mix into oatmeal or yogurt.

Choose a variety of protein sources in your day to have a well-balanced diet. For example:

  • Eggs and mushrooms at breakfast
  • A protein shake after your morning workout
  • Chicken and broccoli at lunch
  • Fish tacos with black beans for dinner

This variety will give your body the essential building blocks for muscle building and recovery.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not meeting your protein goals yet. Start one meal at a time, with a focus on optimizing the post-workout meal or snack initially. After a week or two optimizing that meal, move onto the next one, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself stronger than ever! Embark on your journey to maximize strength and fitness by prioritizing your daily protein intake – it's a small step that leads to significant gains over time!


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