You hear a lot about athletes and protein. And while it’s true that some athletes who participate in strenuous exercise may have a slightly increased need to get some quality protein in their diet, it may not be as much as you think.
All the energy we need to maintain our body and mind, as well as the fuel to help us exercise comes from the foods we eat and the fluids we drink. To determine the right amount of calories, and nutrients to consume, it’s helpful to consider how we use our energy stores on a daily basis and replace energy accordingly.
Athletes fall into a slightly different category than the typical non-exerciser. An athlete uses protein primarily to repair and rebuild muscle that is broken down during exercise and to help optimises carbohydrate storage in the form of glycogen.
Protein isn’t an ideal source of fuel for exercise but can be used when the diet lacks adequate carbohydrates. This is detrimental, though, because if used for fuel, there isn’t enough available to repair and rebuild body tissues, including muscle.
20g in 100g
This contains more fat than chicken, but it’s mainly monounsaturated. A fillet comes in at just 200kcal and the taste is satisfyingly rich.
10g in Half a tin
The base of houmous, chickpeas are a great addition to soups, salads and curries. They also contain 7-8g of fibre per portion.
21g per 100g
Plump, meaty and low in calories, these molluscs taste best seared until crispy and then placed atop a bowl of risotto.
12g per 100g
Also known as soybeans, these are delicious in salads, noodles and stir-fries. They’re a solid source of minerals, too.
11.5g in ½ a ball
With a lower calorie count than most cheeses and plenty of calcium, this is a smart addition in your quest to hit your macro targets.
15g per 100g
These are also stuffed with vitamin B12. Throw a bag of them into a pot with beer and butter, then serve with crusty bread.
20g per 100g
Cook this fermented soybean product – it tastes meaty, not funky – with tamari and liquid smoke, then sub for bacon.