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The Power of Protein

Did you know that we can survive and thrive without carbohydrate, but not protein or fat?  While I don’t recommend this, especially for athletes, it can be done.  Protein is made up of 20 amino acids, 6 of which we MUST get from our diet.  It forms the major components of muscle, skin, tendons, blood vessels and hair.  65% of total body protein lies in muscle.  Most importantly, it is imperative that we get our protein requirements satiated b/c it drives our hunger levels.  We will typically eat until our protein requirements are satisfied in a day.  

I speak about protein frequently, not because I believe that we need excessively high amounts of it, but because I have found that it’s the most underestimated food in people’s diets.  I’ve had clients that require 120 grams per day and are consuming less than half of that.  I’ve worked with athletes who struggle with recovery that eat well below their needs in a day as well.  Lack of protein slows down recovery time, can cause brain fog, poor muscle development and weakened immunity.  

While there are plenty of high protein diets on the market, I advocate a moderate about of protein, coupled with high vegetable intake and the ‘right’ amount of starchy carbohydrate (like potato) for your level of activity.  The key though, is to eat your protein consistently throughout the day, like every 3-4 hours.  More often than not, when reviewing a client’s food log, I see huge breaks in their protein intake throughout the day and/or they started their day with cereal, a virtually protein-less food.

I often hear that people are too busy or in a hurry and struggle to get their protein requirements met in the morning.  Here are a few ideas for a quick morning breakfast that really fuels you up before a busy day.  Beginning a day with only coffee and a bagel misses the boat on what’s possible for your energy levels and metabolism, not to mention muscle growth and development.  Nutrigrain and granola bars aren’t much better.  

QUICK BREAKFASTS THAT WORK:

 

MUST CONTAIN ALL THE COMPONENTS TO BE OPTIMAL.

Power Protein Smoothie:  

 

Protein= High Quality Protein Powder (15-30 grams depending on individual needs)

Energy Giver= Banana, Mango or Peaches (can be frozen)

Green= Spinach

Healthy Fat= Almond or Coconut Milk

Power Breakfast Sandwich:

 

Protein= 2 Eggs & Bacon or Sausage

Energy Giver= Gluten Free Bread (toasted)

Green= Spinach

Healthy Fat= from the Eggs

Power Breakfast Bowl:

 

Protein= Chorizo & Eggs

Energy Giver= Potatoes (can be boiled the night before and heated quick in the morning in a little olive oil in a pan)

Green= Any green you like (made previously and heated with the potatoes)

Healthy Fat= from the Chorizo & Eggs & Olive oil

While protein powder supplements and drinks come in handy from time to time, be sure not to rely on them for your daily nutrition.  They are still processed forms of food instead of whole food options.  Remember, whole foods are always best!