Importance of protein when exercising, food rich in protein and protein supplements
Protein is one of the three macronutrients your body uses to function (the other two being carbohydrates and fats). It helps to repair any internal or external damage and supports the immune system. At a cellular level, proteins are used for many bodily functions, from transporting messages, carrying out instructions of DNA and defending, and preserving and repairing essential life functions. You could say that protein is the building block of the body.
Protein is essential for exercise, you don’t need to be a bodybuilder or an athlete to require an adequate amount of protein. Anyone undertaking any kind of exercise requires more protein for function and recovery than someone who does not. This is because when you exercise you are effectively causing damage to your muscle fibers which needs to be repaired by the body to withstand further stress; this repairing process requires protein. Without an adequate supply of protein to the body, the damage caused by exercise will not be compensated which will lead to injury or atrophy (muscle loss).
The main sources of protein are:
lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
nuts (including nut pastes) and seeds – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
legumes and beans – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, tofu.
If you are still not able to get an adequate amount of protein from food sources you can use protein supplements. The most common protein supplement is dehydrated and filtered whey. Whey comes in three main forms, concentrate, isolate, and hydroxylate (in order of purity and filtration). You can also get other amino acid supplements like branched-chain amino acids and essential amino acids which are the components that make up a protein molecule.