Are you looking to maintain your current weight, bulk up, or shed pounds? Are you not seeing the results you’d like? Chances are, the reason isn’t anything to do with your gym routine–it’s in the kitchen.

Whether you are simply trying to be healthier or have a beach body goal, the old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ is true. We’re going to discuss how to find the right sources of protein for your goals, both from food and powder. Keep reading to find out more!

Getting Lean

Calories in, calories out is one of the best, most simplistic mindsets to have when you are trying to drop weight. However, this does not mean you can eat whatever you want and burn it off at the gym–you need quality calories.

Everyone has a different idea of the ideal diet. Whether it is paleo, ketogenic, or low carb, you must have protein somewhere. In order to lose the weight you want, it is suggested that lean protein comes from actual food sources.

What does this entail exactly?

Lean protein can be found in a variety of foods, but most notably in boneless, skinless chicken breast, fish, egg whites, and fat-free Greek yogurt. This probably sounds like a boring diet, but if your goal is to drop weight, then bulk up, you shouldn’t have to abide by it for too long.

Eating lean protein from actual food sources, coupled with other whole foods (think good fats, vegetables, and fruits low on the glycemic index,) you will find that you stay fuller for longer and reduce the cravings for whatever your ‘kryptonite’ is.

Maintaining Your Current Weight

If you are already happy with your current weight, healthy eating habits still need to be in place, lest you lose or gain unwanted pounds. In order to do this, you will need to continue eating a balanced diet, preferably of whole foods and plenty of protein.

A bit of weight fluctuation is normal, however, if you find that you are gaining fat (and not muscle) you may consider making a few changes. This may include reducing the number of carbohydrates and ‘bad’ fat, adding a new routine at the gym, or it may just mean portion control.

Bulking Up

weight lifting - Finding the Right Food for Your Fitness
Photo by Sam Sabourin on Unsplash

If you are like most men, you want a muscular yet functional physique. At this point, you have probably already gone through a weight loss journey and are in the process of bulking up. Of course, you will have already added strength and weight training to your gym routine, but have you added protein powder?

Earlier we mentioned eating lean protein and whole foods. This is still applicable when you are bulking up, but you will need additional protein in order to really see the results you want. It is recommended that you consume around 1 gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight in order to bulk up.

There are protein powders on the market for men, women, weight loss, and weight gain. How do you choose which one is right for you?

Obviously, you will start with a protein powder that is formulated for your gender and for muscle gain. However, if you ask your local supplement shop, you will be fed a number of answers, often in bodybuilder-type jargon, all aimed to help you impulsively spend your money.

There are many reviews of various protein powders online. However, to find the best protein powder for your body and budget you will need to do your research. You may consider vegan, hemp, animal-based, all-natural, or any combination thereof–just be sure to find something that you can tolerate drinking and that fits your budget.

When choosing your protein powder, you will notice that there are other macronutrients listed. These include carbohydrates and fats, both of which your body needs. Unless the protein shake is a pre- or post-workout meal, carbs should be limited to less than 15 grams per serving.

Enlarge Your Muscles, Not Your Belly

You might think that it is beneficial to add all sorts of ingredients to your protein shake–dried fruit, flavored yogurt, almond butter, etc. This may enhance the flavor of your shake but really doesn’t do much in the way of nutrition.

Instead, opt for either skim milk or water, your protein powder, and a no-calorie sweetener, if necessary. Again, a protein shake is meant to help meet your daily protein goals–not act as a constant meal replacement.

Protein Choices, Whole Foods, and Gym Time

In case you haven’t noticed, protein is a necessary nutrient when it comes to shedding pounds, maintaining weight, and bulking up. With that said, the only way you will stay in peak condition is by combining the right protein powder with whole foods in order to meet all of your nutrition needs.

Once your nutrition is in place and your gym routine is established, you will begin to see results–both in the mirror and on the scale.

There are two more points you should be aware of. The first is that eating well with proper nutrition does not have to be an ‘all or nothing’ ordeal. There aren’t bad foods, just bad portions–eat too much, too often and with no caloric expenditure, you will see the wrong type of gains. Eat the (small) piece of cake, and don’t punish yourself over it.

The second and final thing to remember is that eating well can help reduce the amount of gym time needed–especially if you are trying to lose or maintain weight. However, eating poorly and increasing your gym time will yield much slower results.

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