Athletes need protein—it’s a must. According to a recent article from Runner’s World, athletes can expect fatigue, loss of muscle mass, and heightened risk of injury when protein consumption is low. (The article recommends 0.55 to 0.77 grams per lb of body weight, meaning a 130-pound person should eat 72 to 100 grams of protein a day.) Meat is often the first protein people consider, but studies confirm it’s not necessarily the best option. So, why not try something new?
Check out three of the newest forms of protein to hit the market:
1. Blue-green Algae: Forget steak, eggs, or even tofu, you can get your protein from algae. ENERGYbits has hit the fitness scene with tiny little bits made of spirulina, a blue-green algae. The bits contain a complete protein with the algae, glucose, and nitric oxide. The company claims that these three ingredients can provide an athlete with the rapid access to glucose and protein for top performance. Additionally, the bits claim to give the body an energy boost that many have to use caffeine or chemicals to achieve. ENERGYbits’ protein concentration is at 60% which is very hard to find in most protein sources. A lot of research states that spirulina contains the highest concentration of protein in the world.
Almost all of today’s most popular diets are low-carb, high-protein. Atkins has been big for decades; Paleo is an ever-expanding movement, thanks in part to its following of cross-fit fans; and other plans like Dukan, Medifast, and Southbeach aren’t got anywhere anytime soon. But, while this eating formula may result in noticeable weight loss for most folks, a new study, profiled in a Huffington Post article, suggests high-protein diets may also shorten your life. That’s a pretty big deal.
Here’s what we know:
Portland is a little like New York City in the sense that almost everyone here has some sort of passion project. Maybe they work full-time but are super passionate about sewing, or writing poetry, or teaching fitness classes. Or, in the case of my friend Jeff, maybe they’re trying to get a start-up food company off the ground.
Jeff is the co-creator of Bogg’s Trail Butter, a concoction he dreamed up while biking across the country: Essentially, he decided to blend his trail mixes to make them easier to carry. Fast forward a few years and he’s well on his way to creating a nut butter empire with flavors like Mountaineer Maple and Expedition Espresso. These nut butters are delicious but they’re also full of protein, fiber, fat, and carbs—basically all you need to keep going in the outdoors for a run, bike, ride, or trip to the mountain.
I took one of the squeezable pouches on a ski trip this past weekend and was really psyched to see how easy it was to eat, even with gloves on—you literally just squeeze and go—and also how full I felt afterward. After a few tablespoons I was fueled up for about 90 minutes of play. (Of course I ate some more on the ride home—but, after all, this blend is full of the ingredients needed for fueling a workout and for recovery.)
Eating before a workout can help prevent low blood sugar and fatigue—both of which can greatly decrease your exercise performance! What you eat will vary based on the time of day, what you’re doing for exercise, and how long you plan to be active. Prior to exercise, your main focus should be carbohydrates. It’s good to have little bit of protein and fat as well- make sure that your carbohydrate ratios are a little higher. It’s best to eat both simple and complex carbohydrates before working out to get a good balance of quick and slow-released energy.
Fats and proteins take more time to digest, so they will help keep your stomach satisfied so that it’s not growling while you’re at the gym. Protein will work on repairing muscles after your workout is over (and at that point, it’s good to consume more). In general, fiber is your friend—but not before a workout. Ingesting too much fiber before a gym session could leave in a pretty uncomfortable situation! If you have no problems digesting dairy, having a little bit before you exercise is just fine. However, just like fiber—stay away from it if you have any digestion issues.
Here are a few simple options to eat before exercising:
Whole Grain Toast with Peanut Butter and Honey
One slice of whole grain bread or toast topped with one tablespoon of peanut butter and one teaspoon of honey (or sliced banana) provides a great source of carbohydrates, plus a little bit of protein and fat. This snack is easily digestible and will provide a quick source of energy.
What’s not to love about eggs? They are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to cook. Despite their former bad wrap, they are actually a nutritional powerhouse with good fat and the vital nutrients vitamin D and choline. They seem like the answer to everyone’s breakfast protein problem.
Until you simply can’t look at another egg.
Burnout happens. But you still need to start your day with a breakfast that will stay with you and keep your willpower strong as you stroll past the donuts in the break room. Here are five breakfasts with plenty of protein and where eggs aren’t the star. I guarantee they will fuel your long run or keep you from hitting the vending machine before lunch.
Cottage Cheese: This dieter’s staple found popularity for good reason – one half-cup has 16 grams of protein! Sprinkle with some milled flaxseed and your favorite fruit (I hear kiwi is awesome) for a heartier-than-it-looks morning treat. You can even use it to make these breakfast brownies.
Protein pancakes: The eggs are hiding in many varieties of this fitness staple, but you’ll never know it. Try my Vanilla Coconut Protein pancakes. Make a big batch on the weekend and reheat throughout the week for a quick breakfast. (more…)