You’ll probably see bodybuilders and professional athletes eating a lot of protein. Lean chicken breasts, hard-boiled eggs and protein shakes are just some of the preferred sources of protein that they like to eat. However, having protein as an integral part of your nutrition habits isn’t just a good idea for bodybuilders. It’s essential for everyone. Here’s why.

Protein makes up muscle

A muscle is made up of protein and when the muscle is damaged protein is necessary to help rebuild it. For example, when you exercise muscles are microscopically torn and the process of rebuilding them causes muscles to change in shape. For example, they may become leaner or more bulky depending on if you’re a woman or a man.

However, the body doesn’t store protein like it stores energy. (It stores energy as fat deposits.) This means that you need to constantly be taking in protein in order to make sure that your muscles are kept in tip-top shape. Good sources of protein are:

  • Lean chicken breasts
  • Legumes
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Salmon
  • Tuna

Don’t go overboard with using oil and butter to cook it. Rather choose healthier alternatives to season your food. This is because it will end up adding less calories to the protein.

If you don’t have time to cook a protein-rich meal, there are a number of great-tasting protein shakes that you can take. These are available in an assortment of different flavours and are available from most pharmacies and health food shops. Whey is usually the main constituent of these shakes but if you’re lactose intolerant (as whey is a by-product of the cheese-making process, lactose intolerant people won’t be able to take it) there are other alternatives to whey protein such as hemp and pea protein.

What are the best ways to build muscle?

Without a doubt, the best way to build muscle is through weight training. (This is called strength training or resistance training.) The weights that can be used come in various formats, such as:

  • Barbells
  • Dumbbells
  • Kettlebells
  • Weight machines

These exercises target various parts of your body and work on developing them. For example, there are a number of weight-training exercises that can be done in order to develop a person’s shoulders. For example:

  • Seated shoulder press with dumbbells
  • Military press with barbell
  • Lateral raises with dumbbells
  • Front raises with dumbbells
  • Bent over lateral raises with dumbbells
  • Upright row with EZ bar or dumbbells

Just because you don’t like lifting weights doesn’t mean that you can’t do any resistance training. Pilates – which was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century – is also a form of resistance exercise. But instead of using the above-mentioned weights, it uses a person’s own body weight to build strength in a muscle together with simple pieces of equipment such as an exercise ball, theraband and reformer.

What are the benefits of strength training?

Besides building a sleek and sexy physique – in addition to building up muscle – strength training has a number of added benefits, such as:

  • Helping to increase bone density which puts you at less of a risk for diseases such as osteoporosis.
  • Assisting with keeping your body mechanics in good working order.
  • Helping to boost your mood and ward off depression.
  • Assisting with the development of lean muscle mass.

Just as an aside, lean muscle mass burns calories – even while you’re at rest! This means that you’ll be able to burn calories even when you’re not consciously thinking about it. This is one of the huge benefits of strength training. 

So including protein in your diet is a good thing to do as it is the major component of muscles. Building muscles and keeping strong has a myriad of benefits for your fitness and wellness. Now there’s no excuse to dig into a nice, juicy steak!

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