There are a lot of opposing arguments as to the protein requirements for athletes. Recommendations range from .5g-2g per pound of body weight. At .5g per pound, a 150lb athlete would be eating 75g of protein per day which is not very much at all. On the other end, that same athlete at 2g per pound would be eating 300g, which may be too much. We do know that there is no debating that protein is necessary to build, maintain, and assist with the recovery of muscles. Protein will also help you feel fuller longer and has a thermic effect in that the body burns more calories digesting protein than carbs or fat.
The most important thing is to realize the body’s need for protein and the benefits asscociated, but keep in mind that you will need other macronutreints as well(carbs and fat). The best recommendation I have heard is to intake 1g-1.5g of protein per puond of lean body mass(the amount of weight on the body that is not fat). This is because fat cells do not have the same protein requirements as muscles. What does this look like in real life? Say, I weigh 188lbs at 17% body fat. That means I have approximately 156lbs of lean mass so I would be looking at 156g-234g of protein per day.
Carbohydrates are your friend
Carbs are your body’s primary source of fuel. They provide yoour body with the energy required to get through intense workouts more effeciently than any other energy source. The process is this simple; your body converts carbs into glucose where it will use it directly for energy or it will store it as glycogen for when the body demands it. To avoid using protein as an energy source it is imperitive to consume carbs, especially around periods of excercise. You will be better served to choose slower burning carbs such as sweet potato, pasta, or rice due to their ability to maintain blood sugar levels consistient and to avoid any crashes in energy. Save the sugary carbs for pre/during/post training to boost insulin and maximize the repair and growth of muscles post workout. If you follow a Paleo diet, you can get all your carbs from fruits and vegtables if needed.
Get enough calories
To gain any sort of mass you will need to be in a coloric surplus and the same is true if your goal is to lose body fat. How to set this surplus/deficit is the tricky part and differs from person to peron. This is where it is critical to monitor your body weight and body composition. If you are losing weight on the scale and your body composition is remaining the same you may need to increase coloric intake and if you are weight and body fat you will need to adjust in the opposite direction.. Contrary to popular belief, if the weight on the scale is going up it’s not always muscle so take all factors into consideration.
This can be heard echoing throughout every military training installation across the country. With all this talk about food, you will need to monitor your water intake. Over half our body is comprised of water so any dehydration will lead a reduction in the functioning of vital processes within our body. Without proper hydration, our cells will not transport nutrients as effectively as they need to. Also, your training session may not go as good as it could if you are not properly hydrated. There is the added benefit of your muscles looking fuller and bigger if you are hydrated appropriately.
Following these tips will get you on the right track but if you stick to it for only a few days and fall back, you will unlikely see progress. Most would argue that you need motivation to be sucessful, I disagree. I believe you need sucess to be motivated! So, what you fell back after three days!? That three days you were sucessful, so use those small victories to motivate yourself to stick with it a little longer next time. Over time, this will become a lifestyle. These changes in your body will take time and your body will thank you later. There is no magic pill but a few changes here and there will eventually accumulate to a better version of you.