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By: Anna Riccio, ACSM EP-C, Certified Exercise Physiologist
Do you exercise consistently, but feel like you’re not getting any stronger? Chances are that you are not getting the necessary nutrients from your diet. The key to building muscle is ensuring that you are consuming enough protein each day.
Protein is made of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle protein production. Since muscles break down during exercise, consuming protein is necessary to replenish the energy expended during physical activity. Because those who are active burn more calories, their caloric intake must be greater than someone who is sedentary; thus increased protein consumption is needed.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein is .36 grams per pound of bodyweight per day. The RDA can be described as a goal for daily intake, but certainly not a maximum amount. Adult men have a goal of 56 grams per day and adult women should consume at least 46 grams of protein each day. To maintain muscle, you must intake as much protein as your body breaks down during exercise; to gain muscle, more protein is needed within your diet.
Protein can be consumed from both animal and plant sources. It is important for people who follow a strictly plant-based diet to consume enough protein since others get their protein intake from both animal and plant sources. Some examples of protein-rich foods include:
• Lean meats
While building muscle relies on enough protein consumed, plenty of other processes of the body rely on carbohydrates, fats, micronutrients, and water. The United States Department of Agriculture provides a free resource online at ChooseMyPlate.gov to provide assistance in personalizing a well-rounded diet. To assess protein intake on your own, try calculating the amount of protein you currently consume and compare it to the recommended daily allowance.
Sheltering Arms provides personal training services at multiple locations to help individuals with their physical activity and personal health goals. To learn more about the specific fitness and wellness programs available to you, click here.
For more information or to speak about your own dietary and fitness needs, contact the Sheltering Arms fitness department at (804) 764-5275.
Rodriguez, Nancy & Dimarco, Nancy & Langley, Susie. (2009). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009 41 709 731 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31890eb86.
Choose MyPlate. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/
Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx