Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth and although supplements such as Whey Protein powders are fantastic, they are highly processed and contain very little nutritional value (vitamins and minerals). In saying this I do still use these protein supplements for a number of reasons:
- They are quick and easy and have a full protein count
- They increase protein intake when it may otherwise be inadequate from food alone
- They are readily absorbed by the muscles after a hard workout
With little nutritional value it is important to also consume additional sources of protein through your foods. Below are three rich, natural sources of protein I use to ensure I am meeting my daily requirements. Active individuals generally require 1.5-2g of protein per kg of body weight per day depending on their exercise intensity levels.
Nuts would have to be my favourite snack-food because they are loaded with good fats, protein and fiber. Aim to eat almonds, brazil nuts and walnuts to get the best bang for your buck. Although high in calories, nuts are full of good calories and are very nourishing for athletes who are training hard.
2. Cottage Cheese
A dairy product which I really enjoy with avocado and on top of salads and as a substitute for normal cheese. Low fat alternatives provide fewer calories for those who are conscious, however I go for the full fat product to meet my energy requirements.
Full of protein and fiber, beans are a great food for when you are on the go and are packed with fibre. Mixed bean salads are quick and easy to make by simply adding some vegetables and your favourite herbs. Be wary of eating beans during the day if you have a run session planned at night as the fiber may cause a few issues for you along the way. Also ensure your beans (if canned) do not contain added sugars which many brands include in their mixes. Cooking your own beans is the healthiest alternative however this is time consuming and cooking times can vary for different types
About the author: Ryan Bourke is a Triathlon Coach and Head Swim Coach at Tri-Alliance in Victoria.