A major component of building muscle is ensuring you are supplying your body with enough protein. Protein is broken down into amino acids by the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They can be used as fuel by the body, but more importantly they are necessary for protein synthesis to occur.
Amino acids are broken down into essential and non-essential. Non-essential means that your body can naturally produce these internally. Essential means that the body is not capable of producing these and must be obtained through the diet. This is why it is important to not stick to the dreaded tuna and chicken breast diet. While these are great sources of protein you will be limiting yourself to the amino acids contained in these two sources. Each source of protein has its own amino acid profile. So to ensure you are supplying your body with all the “essential” amino acids, you must consume a variety of protein sources. Below are some other protein sources to consider including in your diet.
Beef – Great source of iron, choose lean cuts only
Turkey – Lean source of protein, contains the essential amino acid tryptophan
Whole eggs – Great source of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals
Egg whites – Fast digestion protein source, great to add to any protein shake
Fish – Including Tilapia, Salmon, Cod, Sole, etc., great lean sources of protein (Excluding Salmon)
Shrimp – Great lean source of protein
Scallops – Great lean source of protein
Cottage Cheese – Good slow digesting source of protein
Greek Yogurt – Good source of protein and calcium, also contains active cultures
Whey Protein – Fast absorbing protein
Another important reason to vary your protein sources is to avoid developing food allergies. This can happen if you are constantly consuming the same protein source over and over again. Varying your protein sources also aids your body in properly digesting and absorbing the protein you are consuming. Another tip is not to consume the same protein source twice in one day. While there are plenty of protein sources to achieve this, if you feel you cannot do this at least limit it to twice a day and never eat the same source back to back. This also means limiting your protein shakes to twice a day (ideally only one post-workout) and consuming the rest of your protein from whole food sources.
Whether your goal is adding mass or losing fat it is essential you replenish your body with the protein it needs to keep your body from breaking down. If you do not supply your body with the protein it requires it will start breaking down your muscle tissue to supply itself with the necessary amino acids it needs for recovery. This will halt your progress fast. A great way to do this is to eat 5-6 smaller meals every few hours to boost your metabolism and ensure a steady stream of amino acids are in your system. Keep in mind your demand will be higher than the average person as you put yourself through these grueling workouts.