If you are training hard in the gym you can’t let that hard work go to waste by eating a crappy diet. If you want to build muscle you need to eat lots of quality protein. The general rule for protein intake for bodybuilding is to eat 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight.
This might sound like a lot of protein at first but it really isn’t that hard to accomplish. However, it is more important to ensure you consume a large percentage of quality protein from real food items.
For example, if you have a choice between drinking real milk or consuming whey protein powder, the obvious choice is the real food item – milk. In fact, if you had a choice between almost any natural protein source over why protein, your choice should be real food all the time.
Protein powders don’t digest and adsorb into the body to the same extent real foods are and often pass through the system. Secondly, protein powders are uber unnatural – similar to drinking a diet Pepsi.
Now that protein powders are off the list, we can prioritize natural protein sources.
Eggs are the highest ranked protein in terms of usability in the body. Considering that eggs contain all the essential nutrients for rapid protein synthesis, it should be a food item eaten on a daily basis. Eat the whole egg as well. The yolk contains cholesterol that is required to synthesis testosterone as well as some of the egg protein.
Milk and milk products such as cheese and yogurt are the second ranked natural source of protein. Milk is easy to digest and available lactose free. If an infant can nurse off nothing but milk, it also counts as an all inclusive food items containing all essential nutrients required for rapid protein synthesis.
Beef, fish, pork, and poultry are ranked next on the list of natural protein sources. I have often heard bodybuilders complain they are sick of eating chicken. The assumption is that chicken is very high in protein and low in fat so it is ideal for bodybuilding diets – specifically pre-contest diets.
Unfortunately the reason they are eating so much chicken is that it is a cheap meat item. They lack a certain knowledge about nutrition. Although chicken might be high in protein and low in fat, meat is harder to digest and less usable than egg and milk protein by a great measure.
Legumes and grains can also be a good natural source of protein; however, these are incomplete proteins lacking all essential amino acids. One way around this is to mix various types of grains or combinations such as beans and rice. This is more important for Vegan vegetarians who can’t consume any of the other sources of protein thus mentioned.
So don’t let you hard work go to waste and choose natural protein sources over powders and supplements. Keep track of your protein intake with a journal if you have to and ensure you eat at least 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight; but make sure at least 1/3 of this protein comes form eggs and milk to ensure you are eating enough quality protein.