Fuel the boot camp: Protein.

If you’ve so much as glanced at the world of fitness you’re likely already familiar with the fact that everyone seems obsessed with protein. It’s in our shakes, dominates our meals, and now companies won’t even sell a cookie without highlighting the few grams of protein it contains. So what’s with the hype behind fitness and protein, and what’s this nutrient’s role when it comes to fueling your boot camp and outdoor fitness regime.

Protein at a Glance

To put it simply, protein is a building block to your body, including your muscular structures. When your body is repairing and building muscle, it uses these groups of amino acids called proteins to do it. The thing is, when we work out, whether its strength or endurance training, our body is essentially tearing itself apart on a microscopic level. Proteins allow your body to repair and adapt itself, usually in the form of bigger and stronger muscles.

Protein the Macro

The bigger and stronger muscles component is the part that excites fitness gurus, and it’s the reason so many people are trying to get as much protein as possible. Protein is one of the essential macronutrients, with the other two being carbs and fats (mentioned in previous articles). While carbs provide energy and fats keep us balanced and energized hormonally, protein can be the driving force behind our results.

However, it should be noted proteins aren’t a holy grail to only putting on muscle while never gaining fat. At its core, a protein still supplies calories, 4 calories per gram of protein to be exact. If you find yourself eating in a drastic calorie surplus, regardless as to whether that surplus is made up of calories from protein or not, you’ll find yourself gaining fat and not just muscle.

Protein Put Right

While protein isn’t the magic pill to looking like a pro bodybuilder overnight, it is absolutely essential to seeing the results you’re after from your boot camp fitness program. Doing all these burpees, jumps, dumbbell lifts, and sprints are going to push and break down your body like never before, and if you have dreams of not feeling like you got hit by a truck due to soreness each morning after, you’re going to need protein.

Getting enough protein will see to it that your body recovers, post-workout soreness is minimalized, and your muscles will be primed and ready for growth.

Source and Amount of Protein

Now that we’ve established the necessity of protein, the questions of how much and from where still remain.  As far as the amount of protein, a good starting point is roughly 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. A little more or a little less won’t hurt depending on your lifestyle.  These are just general rules of thumb, and when it comes to you specifically, you should definitely consult a dietician.

As far as where you get this protein from, it’s really one of the least important questions. It’s generally best to opt for whole and filling sources like lean chicken breasts, but read meats are ok too! And, reality check, there’s nothing magical about protein shakes, they just provide a more convenient and time efficient method to getting your daily protein intake on the go!