What to eat
Proteins are made up of a collection of 20 amino acids. Of these, eight are classed as ‘essential’ and need to be sourced from food, while the other 12 are classed as ‘non-essential’ and can be produced inside your body. ‘High-quality proteins’ such as eggs and meat offer more muscle-building amino acids than other protein foods, so are considered more valuable sources of protein, particularly if you do lots of exercise.
Like simple and complex carbohydrates, proteins are absorbed at different rates in the body. Whey protein is digested quickly so is a good option just before and after exercise. Casein, the primary protein in milk, releases its amino acids slowly, so is particularly useful in the morning, between meals and at bedtime. Protein shakes and powders contain these proteins and are helpful before and after sports, but you can get the protein you need from natural sources too. Here are some foods to get your protein fix:
Good protein sources
King of food protein is the humble egg. A medium egg has around 6g of protein of the highest biological value, meaning it comes complete with all 20 amino acids in the most digestible form. An omelette is a good way to start the day and is a good recovery snack too.
Dairy foods are packed with protein and contain bone-building calcium, too. Chocolate milk is the age-old recovery food after exercise, since it contains energy-replenishing carbohydrates and a blend of both slow and fast release whey and casein proteins. You can get the same recovery-boosting effects from a milk-based fruit smoothie.
A combination of casein and whey protein, yogurt is a great protein-rich food. Since most of the lactose is removed, it can work for most people who are lactose intolerant.
Try a creamy yogurt porridge for breakfast to see you through the day or fuel up after exercise with simple Greek yogurt and fruit.
Fish and seafood
Fish and seafood are good sources of protein and are typically low in fat. While slightly higher in fat than other varieties, salmon packs in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
If you’re dairy intolerant, eat soya protein foods such as tofu and soya-based drinks, plus they can help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Nuts such as pistachios are a practical protein choice if you’re on the move. Around 50 pistachio nuts will provide 6g of protein, plus sodium and potassium, the electrolytes lost in sweat during exercise.
High quality proteins also contain branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are key in supporting muscle recovery. Leucine, in particular, makes up one third of muscle protein and helps to stimulate repair after exercise. Pork is one of the richest sources of leucine and therefore a great addition to a post-exercise meal or snack. Eggs, chicken and lean beef also provide good amounts of leucine.
Chicken and turkey
When it comes to animal protein, opt for lean protein from white meat poultry such as chicken and turkey. It’s wise to discard the skin, which is packed with saturated fat.
(Sourced from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/best-sources-protein)
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