Maybe you think you have a pretty balanced diet, you maintain a great physique, and have an excellent workout regime. But if you are a lady who has decided to start bodybuilding seriously you need to ask yourself if you are getting enough protein in order to achieve the best results.
We all know how important protein is. Every single cell in our body contains protein which is why it’s crucial to get enough in our diet. This is even more important for females lifting weights who want to add some mass. The average adult needs about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. However, the demand for females looking to add muscles is magnified and therefore they need significantly more protein. In fact, to achieve the best possible gains in muscle mass, female weightlifters should be looking to consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 140 pounds you need to consume 140 grams of protein.
When to get the most from protein
Your body needs protein for muscle growth and recovery after your workouts. The more you train, the more protein you will need. Post-workout, the body is in a catabolic state meaning it’s breaking itself down. This is where protein consumption either in the form of recovery shakes or whole foods is essential. Without it, your body will be starved of the nutrients it needs to repair. Research has shown that protein synthesis is highest about an hour after exercise and the rate of synthesis is increased with the consumption of up to 40 grams of protein during that time. That being said, continually consuming protein throughout the day, rather than all in one big hit will be hugely beneficial.
High protein diet myths
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and subsequently the makeup of muscle tissue. Of the 36 amino acids, nine are termed essential amino acids meaning we cannot produce them naturally so they must be consumed in food. Therefore, a high protein diet, or certainly one where we consume enough protein, is essential, especially for female weight lifters. Recent studies show that following a high protein diet not only maintains and gains muscle mass but can also actually reduce body fat.
However, a lot of women tend to shy away from such diets for fear that they will cause kidney issues or interfere with your bone health. These however are simply myths. If you are a healthy, active woman with no pre-existing medical issues, taking on a high protein diet shouldn’t cause effects of this nature. Nevertheless, with that said you can always consult with your doctor before changing your diet if you have any concerns.
A high protein diet means consuming high protein foods at each meal. This helps you to lose weight because protein makes you feel fuller for longer which clamps down on cravings. Of course, when starting a high protein diet, specifically to aid bodybuilding, it is a good idea to stick to lots of lean proteins with some carbs mainly in the form of fruits and vegetables.
What foods are best for a high protein diet?
Fish is an excellent source of protein and is often low in fat. Options such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel also offer Omega 3 which is incredibly beneficial, yet a lot of people struggle to get enough.
Whether it be a sirloin steak or lean beef mince, lean beef is a fantastic source of protein. Be sure to go for the lean options and you’ll cut out excess fat which could be detrimental to fat loss goals.
Chicken and poultry are loaded with protein and are naturally very lean meats meaning they contain next to no fat. Unlike red meats which can be flavoursome, poultry (especially Turkey) can be dry and flavourless. When adding sources, be careful to add that which contains a lot of fat!
If you’re a vegetarian you don’t need to worry about getting your protein from animal products. Lots of soy alternatives are high in protein such as tofu and often just as tasty when used as part of a dish.
Eggs are rich in protein, especially whites. One cup of scrambled eggs alone offers 22 grams of protein.
Nuts are also loaded with protein although can be high in fat. Whilst these are good fats, it’s important to eat nuts sparingly or you could gain unexplained excess weight.
Like nuts, seeds are also full of protein and healthy fats so are a great option for people who have a nut allergy. If you have a sensitivity to nuts, try a handful of pumpkin or flax seeds instead.
Did you know that just one and a half cups of beans have as much protein as a 3 ounce steak? Try adding fava, kidney, or white beans into meals to pack a protein punch.
You can also get great amounts of protein from supplements such as whey protein. These are great if you are finding it difficult to get all your protein from meals. There are a wide variety of whey protein supplements available and are convenient especially post-workout.
If you are a female looking to lift weights then adding more protein to your diet is a fantastic way to help you achieve the results you’re after.