Why Eating Protein is Important for Beginners in the Gym

A newbie’s guide to what protein is, why it’s important & how much you should be eating everyday in order to maximize your health.

*with some bonus high-protein recipes at the end* 

There are no ‘Low Protein’ diets for a reason

Every human that wants to function properly needs to eat protein on a daily basis. ANd for us, gym goers, protein is the only nutrient that can rebuild the muscle tissue you break down during your workout. It also has major roles in the immune system, cellular communication, maintenance pH, fluid balance in the body… the list goes on and on.

Meme about protein

What if I don’t want to eat animals?

Let me be even more specific than I was earlier. Your body actually needs to eat (breakdown) amino acids: the building blocks of protein. Now, you can dive crazy deep into a science rabbit hole about amino acids, but today I just want you to remember two things:

  1. Animal protein is a complete protein. That means if you eat an animal based protein, you’ll be getting all essential amino acids your body needs to function properly.
  2. All non-animal protein, are incomplete proteins. Meaning you’ll have to eat multiple different sources of non-animal based protein to get all the amino acids your body needs to function properly. Unfortunately, you can’t just eat tofu or veggie sausage 100% of the time and expect to be good  (quinoa & buckwheat are exceptions because they are complete proteins, but those can’t be the only protein sources of a diet). You need to mix and match.

* If you have any specific questions on whether or not you’re getting enough protein out of your vegetarian or vegan diet, email me and we can discuss further.

Joke about protein

How does eating protein help me with my goals?

You, like most people, start exercising with simple goals. You want to feel better, lose weight, or maybe be able to move like you used to.

A consistent, daily intake of protein will help with each of these.

protein helps hair
  1. Protein helps you feel better by making all your internal processes work more efficiently. Eating enough daily protein allows your body recover better, feel less sore, you won’t be sick as often, it’ll make your skin and hair feel/look healthier, and many others. Like I’ve said, protein is tied to more body functions than you can imagine.
  2. The main side affect of the new ‘weight loss’ drug everyone seems to be talking about is its ability to lower the users appetite. A lower appetite leads to eating less, which leads to losing weight (super generally). Imagine that! Protein helps you lose weight in a similar way. Eating enough protein during meals keeps you full for longer, helping to prevent you from over eating and helping you lose weight over time. (and the problem with the drug is that people gain all the weight back once they stop taking it)
  3. If you want to move better, you go to the gym and start exercising (hopefully with some mobility training). During your workout, you’re breaking down muscle tissue with the idea that it’ll recover back stronger than it was previously. The only way you’re able to build back up after breaking down is with enough building blocks (amino acids) to make that happen. Eating enough daily protein is the only way to build back stronger. Protein is the only thing that will allow to you recover properly and become strong after a workout. You did all that good work in the gym, you want it to get you actual results right?

Don’t be this guy! 

Bro losing gains because of lack of protein

How much do you need on a daily basis?

An old, out of date recommendation you hear a lot is .8 g per kg of body weight. Research now has shown this is a bare minimum number for people who barely move

That’s not you!

If you’re reading this you are probably looking to figure out how to eat enough protein to balance your current workout routine. You’re not looking for minimum, you’re looking for optimal!

Now a days, American College of Sports Medicine recommends 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kg of body weight for people that exercise regularly.

‘But this is America, we don’t do the metric system! Blaspheme!’

Don’t worry, it’s an easy conversation. You’re probably not going to do it anyway, so we’ll save the cursing at the British for July 4th.

Arnolds view on protein

Daily Protein recommendation

Example for 150 lbs person

150 (lbs) / 2.2 (kg) = 68.2 kg

1.2 x 68.2 = 81.7 g   &   1.7 x 68.2 = 115.9 g  

That means for a 150 lbs person, ACSM recommends they eat somewhere between 82-116 grams of protein PER DAY

What about if I don’t want to count weight or calories?

Precision Nutrition has a great hand size example of how to track serving sizes without looking at weight.

1 palm size serving of protein is about a serving size: 20 g 

hand portions sizes for macros nutrients

What are some protein options?

meat protein options
non-meat protein options

Any full recipes?   

fiesta scramble recipe
Texas Shepards Pie recipe
Pan-sheet honey roasted chicken recipe

Where to start?

Like starting any new habit, you want to increase the amount of protein in your diet slowly. Try and find a meal during the day you feel comfortable adding a serving of protein to, just once per day for 2 weeks. Once you get that down, try adding a little more and continue like that until you get to the recommended daily amount. Even though you’re moving slow, you’ll feel the benefits right away! 

If you have any further questions or need anything clarified, please email or text me (707-318-2484), I love to answer questions.

Thanks again for reading 🙂

Jamie Ford

SD Mobility

jamie@sdmobility.com 707-318-2484

people working out in a group fitness class

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