To put it simply, proteins build and repair.
The body breaks down proteins into amino acids, which are the building blocks of life.
However, just like carbohydrates, there is a lot of confusion surrounding what types of proteins to consume, how much protein to consume and how often.
Protein food sources can be classified as either complete proteins or incomplete proteins. Fish and animal sources such as meat and dairy are complete proteins. On the other hand, grains and legumes such as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds are incomplete proteins.
Incomplete proteins do not possess all 9 essential amino acids required by the body. Essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body and must be consumed through the diet.
Incomplete proteins aren’t bad, but they must be combined with other food sources to ensure you get all the essential amino acids your body needs.
Legumes are often combined with grains to make complete protein dishes such as black beans with rice. Combinations like this are essential for vegetarians in order to maintain or build muscle mass.
You may be asking “but what about Quinoa? That funny sounding product everyone is raving about.”
Quinoa is a pseudo-grain and unlike most grains it is actually a complete protein. As well as being gluten-free, easy to digest and a complex carbohydrate, it is the pound-for-pound king in terms of protein content. In my opinion, Quinoa is worthy of the term ‘superfood’.
Soccer players have a relatively high need for protein due to the high-intensity intermittent nature of soccer, coupled with the weight and resistance training sessions players undergo.
Consuming protein will help players build muscle and recover effectively.
So how many protein meals should one consume in a day? LA Galaxy players typically consume four to six protein meals a day, ensuring each meal contains between 20-35 grams of protein. This could be three meals plus three high protein snacks.
These meals tend to consist of lean protein choices such as chicken breast, grilled tilapia, or oven-roasted salmon, in addition to a quinoa salad, or a bean salad. My favorite high protein snack is Natural Greek Yogurt with Granola and Strawberries.
It is important you consume protein at every meal, especially at breakfast. The vast majority of the population consumes a protein-deficient breakfast.
With the Galaxy, we ensure sure all our players consume sufficient protein at every meal. Each player will consume an Herbalife protein shake after training to support recovery and rebuild lean muscle tissue.
Consuming enough protein is essential to build muscle, recover and to have a lean muscular physique.
The amount you should consume depends on certain contextual factors related to your level of physical activity, the sport you play, your body mass and your training and weight goals.