In my last post I told you I have been doing more weight training, as well as biking, running and swimming to help my husband train for his triathlon and to get myself in better shape. This led me to do a little research on the best post-workout meals for weight training, which should be high in protein. A serving of carbs and protein after a workout helps your muscles recover. Before searching for post-workout meals, I wanted to find out what the daily protein requirements are for an average woman.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Institute of Medicine, at least 10% of your calories, and no more than 35%, should be from protein (by the way, 1g of protein = 4 calories). The general RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for women between the ages of 19-70 is 46 grams (pregnant/lactating women need more). Your individual protein requirement will depend on how active you are, and if your body is in a stressed state (e.g., recovering from surgery).
OK, so then I needed to find out what my personal daily calorie requirement is, and I headed over to Mayo Clinic to calculate it. It came out to be 1950 calories/day to maintain my current weight. Using the percentage above, 10% means that about 195 should be from protein, which comes out to 48 grams per day – just about what is recommended for women in my age group. However, I am working out a lot lately, so I think I should be shooting for closer to 97 grams per day, or 20% of my daily calorie intake. That seems so hard to achieve!
My diet is mainly vegetarian, so I already do not eat a lot of meat. When I first starting eating less meat, I was worried about getting enough protein in my diet, especially because I am very active. As you will see, there are plant-based foods that are high in protein too! Here is a summary of the top choices for high protein, post-workout meals chosen by Dana Angela White, RD who wrote the article Get Stronger with Protein Rich Foods for Cooking Light. They are in no particular order, but I put quinoa first because it is an amazing source of protein for vegetarians since it has all of the essential amino acids.
1) Quinoa – higher in protein than any other grain, you can use quinoa to replace rice and whip up quick side dishes by adding in some vegetables.
2) Fish – preparing fish doesn’t have to be time consuming. Brush some olive oil on your favorite fish, season with salt and pepper, and pop it in the oven on the broil setting for a few minutes. Just a 6 oz portion of halibut has 35 grams of protein!
3) Meat – did you know a 3 oz portion of chicken contains 24 grams of protein? Grill up some steak or make your favorite chicken dish after your workout to get a high amount of protein.
4) Soy – soy contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs, so it is a wonderful protein source. It is everywhere these days, but I like to cook with tofu for main courses, or use it as a base for dips.
5) Eggs – one large egg contains 6 grams of protein, so hard boiled eggs (alone or in a salad) offer a good amount of protein. Eggs are one of the easiest protein dishes to prepare, and you can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
For more high-protein recipe ideas, check out the full article on Cooking Light.