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Should I eat protein if I am physically active?

Studies clearly demonstrate that active people don't eat enough protein to optimize muscle endurance and recovery. And that doesn't apply only to men, either. Inadequate protein intake is perhaps the leading nutritional blunder among active women.

Why is protein so important for fat loss? After brain tissue, muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in your body. Current estimates are that every pound of muscle an individual possesses devours between 35-75 calories per day simply to exist, and that doesn't include the calories your muscles burn during physical activity. Every ounce of muscle you possess will incrementally raise your metabolic rate around the clock. For every pound of muscle tissue you lose, your metabolic rate falls by about 5%. Do the following:
  • Include a full serving of protein with every meal. Protein has a higher thermic effect per calorie than other macronutrients, so consuming a diet that has plenty of protein will help burn more body fat than a diet of equal calories that's lower in protein.
  • Follow the 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio before your workouts. Recent research shows that endurance is further enhanced when athletes take in protein along with carbs both before and during exercise. For endurance athletes, the research shows that a ratio of carbs to protein of 4:1 is best. This means that if you eat 40 g of carbs before workouts, you should also eat at least 10 g of protein.
  • If you use a protein supplement, pick a fast-digesting one before and after training. Before workouts, your best bets are fast-digesting proteins, such as whey. These will quickly get into your bloodstream so they can provide you with energy during your workout, helping to spare muscle glycogen, and allowing you to go harder for longer. After workouts you need a combo of fast-digesting protein and slow-digesting protein, such as casein protein.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.