Fuel for Exercise – the importance of protein

If you exercise regularly you’ll probably be aware of the importance of protein in aiding muscle recovery and growth, but what are good protein sources and how much do you need?

Meat, fish and dairy may be lauded as fantastic protein sources as they contain all the amino acids your body needs to build and repair, but there are still lots of plant protein sources suitable for vegetarians and vegans, you just have to ensure to eat a range of different types so you still get all of the protein you need.

protein image from myfitnessstudio
Image c/o my fitness studio

All animal proteins are ‘complete’ meaning they contain all amino acids (the protein building blocks your body needs but can’t make alone).  These include…

  • Lean beef
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Milk
  • Fish
Lentils, beans and pulses are other good sources of vegan protein
Lentils, beans and pulses are other good sources of vegan protein



Plant proteins are generally ‘incomplete’ but as long as you eat a balanced diet, this shouldn’t be a problem. These include…

  • Soy
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Hemp
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Wholegrains


When your body is subjected to regular exercise nutrition is crucial to ensure good recovery and to help your body get fitter and leaner. While you could argue that munching down on that burger isn’t bad because it’s high protein, the fact that it is most likely processed and pumped with preservatives means it is not a good choice, not to mention the high fat content.

This was one of the biggest flaws of the Atkins diet as while it was helping people to lose weight, it wasn’t taking factors like fat and cholesterol into account. Instead opt for lean proteins and if you’re eating animal sources try to go organic if possible to avoid added chemicals and hormones.

How much protein do I need?

Much like everyone’s calorie requirements are different, so too are your protein requirements. A standard method used by nutritionists to estimate our minimum daily protein intake is to multiply the body weight in kilograms by 0.8 or weight in pounds by 0.37. So a person weighing 9 stone (126lbs) would need at least 46.62g of protein a day.  Of course this may vary depending on your age, size and activity levels.

Research suggests that people who are committed to endurance exercise or bodybuilding will benefit from more protein in their diets. It can be hard to do this through diet alone so many may supplement with protein shakes and bars for extra nutrition.

This is a subject I will tackle in another post as there are so many products on the market it can be hard to know what you need or if indeed you would benefit from adding more protein to your diet.

Do you think you get enough protein in your diet and would you supplement with protein shakes or bars?


3 thoughts on “Fuel for Exercise – the importance of protein

  1. Oh man, I eat tons of protein! Seriously, I eat about 1.5 to 2 pounds a day! I am extremely athletic though so while this may sound like a lot, it’s actually the perfect amount for me… I also eat a very low carb diet so eating a lot of protein is needed to get enough calories in my system. Seriously, I eat at least a pound of fish a day! 😛 No need to protein bar supplements.

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