You can be really, really clueless about nutrition and weight loss and still know this: Protein is a freakin’ saint. It’s satiating as heck (bolstering your willpower against nefarious 3 p.m. cupcakes), it keeps your hair lush and leonine, and of course it builds strong muscles (so you can lift semi-heavy things and not offend people at the beach). But there’s a lot of protein noise and weirdness out there (eyes on you, creepy protein water), which makes knowing when and how to eat it very confusing.
With the help of The Rock (just kidding: only two incredibly smart food experts) we’ve sorted through the details so you can start using protein to burn off your belly and whittle out some triceps grooves.
Don’t: Eat it all in one sitting. We don’t store protein the way we do with carbs or fat, so wolfing down a massive steak dinner tonight doesn’t cover you for tomorrow morning’s CrossFit session, says sports nutritionist Chris Mohr. To stay topped off throughout the day, aim for around 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal, which is about the size of your palm if you’re having meat, or a cup of Greek yogurt, or three eggs. (If you’re anal, Mohr says the recommended amount of protein is .25 grams of protein per pound of body weight per meal. Enjoy your calculations.)
Do: Eat a protein snack (around 10 grams) within 30 to 60 minutes after a tough workout, says Chicago Blackhawks nutritionist Julie Burns. You just ripped up some muscle fibers and they need fuel to rebuild and grow.
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