Protein is another macronutrient like carbohydrate, water and fat. They are required for making enzymes, hormones, blood plasma, and tissue repair, muscle building and even for energy production.
Though there are exceptions, the general rule for regular and intense workout schedules, weight training included, is protein consumption up to 1 gm per pound of body weight. If you do light intensity workouts everyday or moderate workouts, every other day (not daily) then 0.40 grams of protein for every pound of body weight may be had through food intake.
Keep in mind though that if your protein intake requirement is high, you drink enough fluids to back it up. Water is most recommended. Protein metabolism produces nitrogen that needs to be eliminated from the body, thus taxing both the kidneys and the liver. If you are into bodybuilding, strength training or endurance sports and consequently have a high protein intake, make sure you are not getting dehydrated. Your kidneys will require large amounts of water to be able to dilute produced nitrogen.
It is always advisable to take natural proteins of either vegetable or animal sources. If you are a vegetarian athlete, you may take combination of two incomplete proteins to make a complete protein. For example, you may eat peanut butter sandwiches, brown rice and beans, pea soup and roll or vegetable stir-fry and rice, oat-but bread, chickpea hummus, cereal with milk, cheese and macaroni or cheese sandwiches etc.
If you are a non-vegetarian fitness enthusiast, and are looking for low fat options, you may opt for tuna, egg whites, red beans, skim milk, non-fat cheese, low-fat yoghurt. For those of you who are looking to gain some weight you may want to consider salmon, eggs, peanut butter, meats and full-fat milk and cheese etc.
Whatever it is, avoid the use of synthetic proteins and supplements to attain short-term and quick goals. They may be selling in the market but they come with their baggage of serious side effects. Anything potent enough to ‘help’ will be potent enough to cause side effects. Though the health and fitness industry is abuzz with names such as DHEA, GABA, Androstenedione, Creatin Monohydrate, Ephedra and the like, I would recommend you lose /gain weight or build muscles through sensible and balanced nutritional plans picking from all the food groups and a good workout program. If you must use supplements, please read the ingredients very carefully and consult your doctor on, if and how they are to be had.
Yours in health and fitness.