Protein is a vital part of our diet. Consuming good quality protein regularly has so many great benefits for our muscles and for cycling, but it's important to make sure you're getting it right.
Lovely proteins are essential building blocks for a stronger you. They aid muscle recovery, tissue growth and the transportation of signals around the body through your hormones.
Protein sources can contain up to 20 different amino acids, which help our bodies to put them to good use. Nine of these are 'essential', they can't be produced naturally by the body and those that contain all nine are called 'complete proteins'.
Eggs are a complete protein - in fact they contain a stonking 18 amino acids, and all of the essential ones too. However, just knowing how good they are for you isn't enough, you need to know how and when to consume them. Here are some of the mistakes to avoid...
Forgetting your Post-workout Protein
The essential post-workout food groups are carbohydrates and proteins. It's crucial to get a blend of both within roughly 60 mins of a training session, or cycle.
The amino acids that are found in protein help with muscle recovery and mending any damaged fibres, however the carbohydrates are what helps transport them around the body.
For an average woman, it's advised that you consume roughly 12g - 15g of protein after a workout. Too much protein, like anything, is bad for you and in this case, excess protein will get stored as fat.
Low-fat chocolate milk is a favourite snack beverage after a workout - it contains a good blend of both carbs and protein. Boiled eggs to snack on in the car ride home are also ideal.
Skipping Protein Packed Meals and Snacks
Many of us get the majority of our protein in the evenings when we eat meat with our meals, however it's recommended we eat protein throughout the day, especially with breakfast.
Having more protein in your diet will help fight off the fatigue by keeping your blood sugar levels regulated. Spacing out your protein consumption will also ensure your body is able to break it all down, and process it without being overloaded.
Needing Complete Proteins all the Time
It's commonly believed that every protein food you consume should have all 20 amino acids. However, this isn't the case.
While it's great to have the essential 9 in the mix, protein packed food offers a lot more than just protein. Many will have a blend of vitamins, minerals, potassium and fibre which all work hard to keep your body healthy and happy. So vary your protein sources to ensure an all round balance.
Protein Bars and Shakes are all You Need
Protein bars, drinks and general supplements are great for getting quality, quick protein into your system and when you're in a rush they're perfect. However, they're not a replacement for real food and many contain additives you might not need.
When you've got time to prepare some food, ditch the bars and shakes and opt for more natural protein sources like Greek yoghurt, nuts, seeds and boiled eggs.
When we spoke to nutritionist Joseph Agu, he was clear on his preferance - saying: "The main advantages of consuming a supplement like whey protein is they’re cheaper on a gram per gram basis in terms of the protein you get. They are high quality – which means the leucine content of that protein is very high. However – outside of competition, my advice would be to consume as much as you can from food sources, and then use supplements to fill in those gaps. Food has advantages – in my opinion and in most people’s opinion it’s better tasting, often more satiating, and eating a meal is a part of socialising."
Ensure you're getting a regular dose of protein each day from all the right varieties of foods.
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