Protein: The Key to Performance TO BUILD CORE IN WOMEN

When it comes to protein, many people struggle to find the happy medium. Some people don’t get enough, while others follow diets dangerously low on carbs and go overboard on protein. Protein builds, maintains, and restores muscle. It’s responsible for healthy blood cells, key enzymes, and a strong immune system. In order to build and maintain muscle, you must consume protein with enough carbohydrate calories to provide your body with energy. 

Otherwise your body will tap into the protein for fuel. Using protein for energy is inefficient and ineffective for performance. Just as athletes have higher carbohydrate needs than the average person, they also need more protein. This is also true for women who incorporate strength training into their regimen, as in the Core Performance Women program. Exercise produces a catabolic effect, breaking down precious lean body mass. 

By consuming adequate protein, both throughout the day and especially after training sessions, we help our bodies minimize and reverse this effect and jump-start our road to recovery. As a general rule of thumb, you need to consume between 0.6 and 0.8 gram of protein per pound of body weight. If you weigh, say, 140 pounds, you want to shoot for between 84 and 112 grams of protein per day. Generally speaking, the leaner and more active you are, the higher your protein intake should be. That might sound like a lot of protein—and it is a significant amount—but consider how much protein is in these common foods:

Chicken (4 ounces, skinless, the size of a deck of cards): 35 grams 

Cod or salmon (6 ounces): 40 grams 

Tuna (6 ounces, packed in water): 40 grams

 Lean pork (4 ounces): 35 grams 

Lean red meat (4 ounces): 35 grams 

Tofu (6 ounces): 30 grams 

Cottage cheese (1 cup, 1% or 2% fat): 28 grams

 Milk (1 cup of 1%, 2%, or fat-free): 8 grams 

1 egg: 6 grams 

1 egg white: 3 grams 

Protein intake should be split up over the course of the day, and it should be included in every meal. Protein helps to stabilize energy, promotes satiety, and also revs up the metabolism. Your body has to work a little harder to digest protein; therefore your metabolism gets a bit of a jolt each time you include it in a meal. By including a protein source with each of your meals and your post-workout recovery shake, you will easily and effectively satisfy your protein needs. Here’s a good rule of thumb about protein: “The fewer legs, the better.” The fewer legs something had when it was alive, the better its ratio of protein to healthy fat

Fish, for instance, is a healthy source of protein, assuming that it’s not fried. Fish such as salmon and albacore tuna also provide an optimal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids help to promote cardiovascular health and decrease inflammation. Other great sources of protein from seafood include mussels, scallops, and several fish with lots of legs: shrimp and lobster. Chicken is also a wonderful source of protein, provided the skin is removed and the meat is not fried. Meat from four-legged creatures can be good provided it’s a lean cut. 

Lean red meat is a source of important nutrients such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Grass-fed red meat products are preferable than corn-fed options since those animals typically had less exposure to hormones and pesticides. Even the fattier cuts of grass-fed beef have a better fatty-acid profile, providing omega-3 fatty acids. Lean cuts of pork and ham also are good sources of protein. Dairy products provide protein, calcium, and vitamin D for strong bones. When you start to consider how much protein you really need to eat, you may think that it sounds like a lot, but in reality it’s a manageable amount.

Eggs are a tremendous source of protein. In the last decade eggs have been cast as something of a dietary villain, linked to heart disease and high cholesterol. Instead let’s focus on the benefits of eggs. They are a great source of choline, a dietary nutrient essential for normal cell function and brain health. Eggs also are a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that promote eye health. Eggs also provide protein and healthy fats with minimal calories. 

The whole egg will keep you feeling fuller longer and provide you with more nutrients than just eating egg whites. So go ahead and eat the whole egg. You should also incorporate a post-workout recovery shake mix into your routine. That mix will contain 10 to 25 grams of protein per serving, along with carbs. If you have one or two shakes a day, along with some combination of poultry and fish for lunch and dinner and a breakfast that includes yogurt or eggs, you’ll easily meet your daily protein goal.

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