Keeping the Protein Flow
Ever heard somebody say that you better watch what you eat? Watching what you eat is very important, but you’ll also need to pay attention to what you’re not eating if you want to keep muscle on your body.
I’m sure you’ve already heard that you need to eat plenty of protein to keep your body in good shape and build muscle, so I probably don’t need to repeat that to you.
But if you’re wondering how much protein you should get with each meal, when to eat it, and how to eat it… I might be able to help you out there.
Protein Every 3 Hours
First, let’s talk about the when and the why. Imagine, for a moment, that your body is a factory. This small factory works each day to produce the materials that it needs to keep its own walls and floor in good shape.
Imagine that the bricks in the factory walls are constantly wearing out, so a conveyor belt is needed to bring new materials into the factory. This is pretty similar to what’s going on inside your body as your cells are constantly being replaced. Just as the bricks in the factory wall need to be replaced, your body needs protein to rebuild it’s cells.
Your body is good at storing all those excess calories that you eat as fat cells, but protein isn’t really stored in your body for long periods of time. Protein only stays in your body for about 3 hours.
So, going along with the conveyor belt analogy, if more bricks end up on the conveyor belt than are really needed, they just fall off the end of the conveyor belt and are swept away to another place. They aren’t stored or used to build the walls. If you eat too much protein, it isn’t stored for later.
The opposite is also true. If some bricks are needed but none are on the conveyor belt at the moment, then the holes in the wall can’t get fixed. If you are trying to maintain the walls properly, you’d better make sure that you keep enough bricks (protein) on the conveyor belt.
Since proteins stay in your system for about 3 hours after you eat, so you’ll have to pay special attention to making sure that proteins are continually flowing in.
This doesn’t mean that you need to start gorging on meat- you’re body will only use what it needs for building muscle and maintenance. But you will need to make sure that your body has enough protein in it throughout the day so that your muscle growth isn’t held back.
This is part of the reasoning behind eating six meals throughout the day. If protein only stays in your body for about 3 hours, then you’ll need to eat some protein about every 3 hours or so.
Getting the Protein in
The recommended minimum amount of daily protein intake is 1 gram per pound of body weight daily. If you weigh 180 pounds, you’ll need to eat at least 180 grams of protein in a day for muscle building. Over the course of 6 meals, a 180 pound person would have to eat 30 grams of protein or more in each meal.
Not sure what 180 grams of protein looks like? A little research shows just how much protein is found in the most common protein sources. You can do more in-depth research at NutritionData.com.
- Tuna: 1 can (6 ounces)- 40.1 grams of protein
- Salmon: ½ fillet (6 ounces)- 41.2 grams of protein
- Chicken Breast: (6 ounces)- 42.5 grams
- Steak: (6 ounces)- 38.6 grams
- 1 cup of milk: 8 grams
- Whey: GNC Pro Performance- 20 grams per scoop
- Eggs: 1 large (not jumbo sized) egg- 6 grams
As you can see, the different meats have similar protein contents. Animal protein sources such as those listed above are usually the best sources of protein for muscle building since they are more complete than other sources
The following foods will also have moderate or small amounts of protein:
- Cottage/ cheddar cheese
- Soy & tofu (this actually tastes good if you cook it right)
- Beans & lentils
- Whole grains & vegetables
Again, the protein from grains and vegetables won’t be as complete as the proteins you get from animal sources, but a combination of the two can help you to eat the right amount of protein you need. These other sources add up throughout the day to help you get your needed protein.
Find out how much protein you need daily based on your body weight (1 gram per pound), and then make a plan that will help you to get your daily protein intake. That way, you’ll be careful to watch out for what you’re not eating enough of.