Nothing evokes summer like the smell of BBQ and charcoal. And what better way to satisfy your protein needs than to fire up the grill and cook some lean meat or fish? Protein is especially important for athletes, because it promotes muscle growth and repair—exactly what they need after tough summer training sessions. Read on to learn how much protein you need and which sources are ideal for the grill.
How much protein?
The simple formula below can help you determine your approximate daily protein needs:
Weight [lbs.] x [0.36] = grams of protein needed daily to maintain
Weight [lbs.] x [0.68] = grams of protein needed daily to build muscle
Why you need it
Your muscles propel you during activity; and since they are made of protein, it's critical to ingest the nutrient. Protein facilitates the recovery process by repairing and building muscle tissue. It also produces antibodies for your immune system and enables muscles to contract. If you don't consume enough protein, you become more prone to injury and suppress your immune system, which can put you at risk for infection.
Where to get it
"Your body absorbs animal proteins the best," says Amanda Carlson, vice president of nutrition for Athletes' Performance; and she offers this tip for choosing animal protein sources: the fewer legs the better. "Fish have no legs and are a very lean protein source," she says. "Chickens and turkeys are also lean sources when skinned and grilled."
Sports nutritionist Chris Mohr adds that variety is key. He recommends the following options when you fire up the grill this summer:
• Bison [145 calories // 24g protein // 5g fat]*
• Pork tenderloin [122 calories // 22g protein // 3g fat]
• Boneless, skinless chicken breast [95 calories // 20g protein // 1g fat]
• Yellowfin tuna [92 calories // 20g protein // 0.8g fat]
• Salmon [156 calories // 17g protein // 9g fat]
• Shrimp [90 calories // 17g protein // 1.5g fat]
*Nutrition information for a three-ounce serving
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