While there are many aspects to consider when building a strong body, one vital piece is protein. Often referred to as the building block of muscle, protein helps repair tissue in your body. Protein is important for anyone looking to gain strength and build muscle.
Determining the proper amount of protein for active people is important. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nonactive adults need about 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. For example, a 180-pound person would need around 70 grams of protein daily.
However, this number may double for those leading active lives. According to the Performance Triad Guide, service members conducting three to five physical readiness training sessions per week, plus strength training or endurance training, need 0.7 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Following these guidelines, active service members weighing 180 pounds need between 126 to 144 grams of protein daily. Captain Joshua Lockwood, a registered dietitian and chief of Clinical Nutrition Services at Madigan Army Medical Center, recommends spreading intake throughout the day.
“Timing your protein intake is also important for achieving the daily total without saturating the body’s ability to metabolize and utilize protein,” Lockwood said.
While including this amount of protein into your diet may seem difficult, there are many protein-packed foods that make reaching your daily goal doable.
There are several affordable high-protein foods for meat-eaters, vegetarians and anyone in-between.
For example, a 3-ounce portion (the size of a deck of cards) of meat or fish provides around 21 grams of protein, whereas 3-ounce of tofu contains 12 grams of protein. Additionally, eggs, egg whites, milk, soy milk, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, mixed nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds and pistachios), beans or legumes, quinoa, green peas and edamame are all excellent sources of protein.
If you are looking to add more protein to your diet, small changes could go a long way. For example, opting for eggs or egg whites, milk or soymilk, bagels with peanut butter or yogurt with breakfast instead of plain toast, breakfast bars, doughnuts, or pastries could boost your intake.
Likewise, eating foods like quinoa instead of rice, green peas in place of green beans and edamame rather than chips can increase protein in meals and snacks.
So, what are you waiting for? Calculate your needs, track what you eat and take the hill.