Protein is a nutrient which contributes to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass.
It is found in animal products such as meat and dairy but it can also be found in other foods, for example, in nuts and legumes.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are organic compounds with elements of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Together, amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of the body.
An important part of sports nutrition is ensuring that you are getting enough protein from your diet.
Protein powders and sports supplements have become more and more popular in recent years.
Sports supplements that are available now include protein bars, perfect for on-the-go snacking and protein powders, which can be mixed into shakes, juices and smoothies.
The amount of protein that you should eat each day will really depend on your fitness goals.
If you do a lot of exercise, you might need to up your protein intake.
The Department of Health advises that the recommended daily intake of protein is 55.5g for men and 45 grams for women or 0.36g per pound of body weight. However, this may vary if you do a lot of training.
For most people, eating a healthy balanced diet should provide you with enough protein.
However for people who do lots of activity and exercise, their protein intake might need to be adjusted accordingly.
It is important to eat enough protein as protein helps you to maintain muscle mass as well as contributes to a growth in muscle mass.
What are the different types of protein?
Types of protein can be divided into two categories:
Including whey, casein, egg, beef and chicken
Including soy, pea, brown rice and chickpea.
Two of the most common types of protein powders are whey protein and casein protein. Both of these proteins come from milk. Whey is the liquid that separates from the curds which is the casein.
Whey protein is recommended to be consumed straight after exercise whereas casein protein (https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/sports-nutrition/protein/casein/) is slow acting and so should be consumed before bed time.
Both of these protein types are available as sports supplements and powders which can be mixed with water or milk to make protein shakes.
While eating protein on its own will not help you to lose weight, it can be very beneficial as part of a balanced diet.
If you are following a vegan diet, it can be more difficult to get the recommended daily intake of protein as you will not be eating any meat, fish or dairy, all of which are great sources of protein.
Natural sources of plant-based protein include lentils, chickpeas, beans and nuts.
You can also get vegan protein powders, shakes and snacks to support your daily protein intake.
Vegan protein powder can be mixed with water, added to juices or mixed with a milk substitute like oat milk to make a delicious tasting shake, perfect for post-exercise goodness.
There are lots of options when it comes to the best time to drink a protein shake.
You can drink a protein shake as a filling snack between meals or before or after your workout.
Whether you drink a protein shake before or after your training session is up to you.
Choose whichever time is convenient for you!
Whether you push your body to the limit with heavy weight-lifting, do a little gymnastics in your spare time, or are pumping out the cardio to lose a few pounds, staying on top of your nutrition is key to achieving the best results possible.
We know you are busy people who don’t always have time to prep perfectly nutritious meals. That’s why Holland & Barrett have a huge range of powder protein shakes, pre-workout drinks, gym supplements, healthy energy drinks, and more.
Helping you to be the best you can be
In a world of ‘don’t eat this’ and ‘only eat that’, it can be hard to get your head around what your body actually needs to perform at its best. When you forget about faddy diets and all the obscure rules that are touted, it all comes down to macronutrients, micronutrients, and a whole lot of H2O.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients are the food pillars that keep your body and mind going day after day: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
What are micronutrients?
Now you’ve met the big guys of nutrition, meet the little guys: micronutrients. These are all the vitamins and minerals found in food and drink that our body needs to function at its best. Everything from energising B vitamins to muscle-maintaining vitamin D.
What should I eat before a workout?
It is generally recommended that you eat a normal-sized meal 2-3 hours before any workout. If you want to eat up to an hour before your workout, a pre-workout snack like a banana or energy bar with a high carbohydrate content and some protein could help.
Pre-workout shakes, energy drinks and energy gels are also a great option if you don’t have time to prepare natural energy-boosting meals.
What should I eat after my workout?
What you put into your body after your workout is just as important as what you put in before. When you exercise, your muscles use glycogen as energy and some of the proteins in your muscles get damaged and broken down. After your workout, your body will get straight to work trying to replenish its glycogen stores and regrow muscle proteins. You can help it along with what you eat after.
Protein comes in many shapes and sizes and is essential for building muscles after a workout. You can take diet protein shakes which are high in protein and low in calories to gain lean muscle, mass gainer protein shakes to put on weight and muscle, and protein bars for a quick and easy post-workout snack.
Creatine powder can also be very effective for improving athletic performance. It is naturally produced in the body and kicks in when you perform short-term, high intensity exercises. But sometimes your body doesn’t make enough, which is why a supplement could be a great idea.
How can amino acids support my workouts?
BCAA (branched chain amino acids) supplements are very useful for active people but, sadly, cannot be made in your body and must be consumed as food or drink, or supplemented.
There are three BCAAs: valine, isoleucine and leucine, which collectively make up approximately one third of the body’s skeletal muscle.
Other amino acids that can help support your workouts are arginine, beta alanine, glutamine, carnitine and HMB.