We have all heard how consuming enough protein and carbs is essential to reaching your fitness goals. So is one better than the other? Can one help you reach your goals quicker? Let's break it down and take a look at both.
What is a protein? Proteins are large, complex molecules that play a crucial role in the body. Proteins do most of the work in our cells and a necessary for structure, function and regulation of the body's tissues and organs.
Your organs, tissues, muscles, and hormones are all made from proteins. Food-based protein is used by every part of the body in order for cells to develop, grow, and function properly. Consuming protein is critical because every body function depends upon this cellular building block! Adequate consumption of this nutrient is vital for avoiding deficiency and all of the negative consequences that ensue.
Protein feeds your muscles and muscle tissue is much more dense than fat. This means that it takes up less space. 5 lbs. of muscle vs 5 lbs. of fat is a dramatic difference on the body. Consuming protein is also good to maintain weight loss because it takes more energy in your body to digest the protein which means more calories burned overall. When you lose weight, it can be common for you to lose muscles as well. However, by eating a protein rich diet, your body will lose fat instead of muscle.
Why are they important?
Builds & Repairs Tissues: Protein aids in building stronger and healthier bones and muscles. It also helps your skin, hair and nails stay healthy. When you work out, especially when lifting weights, you are ripping some of your muscle fibers which is a good thing! And protein will help repair these tissues to build lean muscle.
Regulates Hormones: Not only does protein help with the things you see on the outside, but it also helps to regulate your hormone levels. Hormones behave like "cellular messengers" and help to manage all kinds of activities in the body: take insulin production, for example - a hormonal process that helps regulate blood sugar in our body. A high-protein diet reduces hunger, helping you eat fewer calories, and this is caused by improved function of weight regulating hormones. Blood sugar that is managed properly can also help alleviate mood swings throughout the course of your day!
- Speeds Up Recovery: Protein helps to expedite your body’s recovery after any exercise. This will help you to move every day without as much risk of injury! Anyone who engages in a consistent exercise routine is going to need to increase the amount of protein in their diet: when we exercise, muscle fibers are being torn and broken apart, and protein is the fundamental component of tissue repair.
- Weight loss and maintenance
- Stabilized blood sugar level
- Improved ability to learn and concentrate
- Reduced brain fog
- Boosted energy
- Supported muscles and bones
- Amplified absorption of important nutrients
- Plus! keeps you feeling full
I'm Vegan and don't eat meat...
NO WORRIES! With raised awareness around animal agriculture and more and more individuals paying closer attention to their nutrition choices, people are beginning to adopt many different plant based alternatives into their diets. One of the main concerns when individuals begin to adapt a plant based diet, is how are they going to get their protein in!? With a well planned, vegan or vegetarian diet, it is easy to get all the nutrients you need.
Check out my blog post on Best Non Animal Sources Of Protein To Try Today. There are even a few recipes that you can whip up. It's always fun to try something new! You might not know you even like something!
Carbohydrates have gotten a terrible reputation over the years, however they are not always bad! They are the primary energy source for your body! The three main types are sugars, starches and fiber. Carbs are either classified as "simple" or "complex" based on what they are made of and then what your body does with them. Let's dive in a little further.
Simple carbohydrates are composed of easy-to-digest sugars. These can either be naturally occurring like those in fruits, while others are refined and added to foods like cookies. Simple carbs are absorbed quickly in the gut and can cause a rise in blood sugar levels. These sugars can go by many different names so it is important to check the labels and see what the sugar content is in your foods before you purchase them.
Complex carbs are what you should focus on in terms of nutrition. These can be found in whole grains, vegetables and legumes. The difference is these carbs contain fiber which is not digested or absorbed. How does this help? Since the absorption of complex carbs is much slower into the blood stream so it won't spike your blood sugar and will give you a more consistent amount of energy.
Let's look at some examples of of complex carbs...
- Sweet Potatoes: These carbs are packed with fiber! This helps regulate your digestive system - no need to feel bloated because this will help eliminate any waste the body is storing. Talk about some amazing gut benefits!
- Brown Rice: Brown rice is white rice’s healthy cousin. You can barely taste the difference and has many more benefits! These carbs are a whole grain which takes a little longer for the body to absorb and digest, which gives your body energy to CRUSH the day. Don’t have to worry about that afternoon crash!
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas are apart of the legume family. They’re great for your health because they’re filling, low in sugar, and provide energy. Roast them for a snack before your big meal and to avoid overeating.
- Veggies: Yes - veggies are complex carbs too! They’re packed with vitamins and minerals that perform so many important roles in your body!
If your body is craving carbs like bread or pasta, it could have something to do with your energy levels. Have they gone down recently? When your body goes too long without eating or if you consume too many simple carbs, your blood sugar will drop and your body will will look for starches that are quick and easy to digest.
When you consume these carbs your blood sugar will spike and get back to normal quickly, however it won't make you feel full! If you're craving carbs go for whole grain and complex carbs such as beans, quinoa and oatmeal. These will keep you fuller longer because they take longer to digest.
So which one is better for results?!
TRICK QUESTION! You need them BOTH! It’s important to combine protein with carbohydrates because the body absorbs protein more readily this way, leading to increased muscle mass and sustained post-workout energy!!!
Without enough carbs, your body turns to protein for energy, and you need that protein for other critical body functions (as well as for developing lean muscle mass & shaping up from those workouts)!
Get started on my nutrition plan to find out exactly what your body needs!