It’s July! A brand new month with four weeks of opportunity to pursue your goals! Four weeks to make better decisions for your health and your body. And since we all know that lifestyle changes start on Monday, Fridays are great days to research tips and advice for a more healthy lifestyle. That’s a joke, people. As Carrie Underwood says in her book, Find Your Path: “Do it when you can, because sometimes you can’t.” Since First Friday Fitness is actually about fitness and health, today we’re going to focus on supporting the body with protein. I’m giving you a few reasons why it’s important for your body, as well as two simple recipes for a post-workout protein meal.
I am NOT a doctor. This information is simply to inform readers. Any action taken by reader should be approved by a doctor first.
What is Protein?
The first thought that comes to my mind when I think of protein is chicken. A grilled chicken breast with herbs to be specific. However, that is not all it is.
Technically speaking, Protein is a Macronutrient. A macronutrient is something (either a food or chemical) that is required in large amounts to support the body. The body needs three macronutrients and protein is one of them.
If you don’t know, chicken isn’t the only food that contains protein. You can find protein in most meats (such as beef, lamb, poultry, and fish), nuts, most diary, legumes, and beans.
Benefits of Protein.
There are many ways that Protein supports the body, even for someone who isn’t working out. Overall, protein helps:
- Build muscles, bones, cartilage, and skin.
- Repairs tissue
- Carry oxygen through the body
- Aids proper digestion
- Keeps the body full longer
- Boost the metabolism
Reading this list, it’s not hard to see how consuming protein is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Protein and Working Out.
Did you know that when you work out, your muscles actually tear? This is how they grow stronger. That’s part of why working out too much can lead so easily to an injury. If you don’t rest, your muscles won’t get a chance to repair themselves. They’ll continue to be torn and weak, susceptible to greater tears that can stop your progress all together.
Because of these tears and stresses on the muscle, we need protein to help repair the damage we inflict during a workout. All those protein shakes and meals are actually a vital part of helping the body rebuild itself, not just for losing or keeping off extra weight.
Another thing is the muscles need more oxygen when you’re working out compared to when you’re not. That’s why we’re reminded to breathe so often. If we don’t get oxygen through our body then our muscles won’t function properly during our workout.
After we’re done working out, oxygen is needed to help those muscles just as much as when we’re working out. We still need our muscles to work properly while they’re busy trying to repair themselves. Protein is an important part of getting oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body.
If you’d like to read more about why breathing is important during exercise, check out Just Breathe.
Experts recommend consuming protein within 30-60 minutes after a workout. A lot of people choose to drink a protein shake or smoothie post-workout. Sometimes, though, that’s not an option (like if you’ve run out of ingredients) or you might want something a little more.
Both of these instances have happened to me, which is basically how my protein salad came about. So whether you want a smoothie or an actual meal, I got you. These recipes are super simple, so feel free to add to them if you want!
Mango Vanilla Protein Smoothie
Though there is a link placed for the Vanilla Protein Shake I enjoy, I in no way am affiliated with Tone It Up or its other affiliates. I will not receive a commission if you end up buying after clicking the link. I just like it and wanted to share it with you.
- 1 C Frozen Mango
- 1/2 C Greek Yogurt
- 1 3/4 C Vanilla Protein Shake (I like this one. It’s plant based and delicious.)
Starting with the Shake, combine all ingredients and blend together.
I told you, super simple. You can add any other fruit you desire or any extras like Chia Seeds.
Nutritious Tuna Salad
- 1 can of Tuna in Water
- 1 C of Spinach
- 2 slices of Tomato, diced
- 2 Medium Carrots, chopped
- 1 T Olive Oil
- 1 T Lemon Juice*
*I really like lemon, so I tend to add more like 3 or 4 tablespoons of Lemon Juice. It’s up to you!
- Drain water from Tuna
- Layer Spinach, Tuna, Carrots, and Tomato (up to you if you combine now or later)
- Pour Olive Oil and Lemon Juice over salad
This makes a small salad, so if you’re looking for a bigger meal then feel free to add more spinach and tomato, or even some seeds if you’d like. In the end, this is for your health.