When it comes to planning out your dietary macro intake, the vast amount of information can (understandably) leave your head spinning. Between the endless guidelines, supplements, and calculators, most people seem to regress back to square one instead of progressing forward.
While undoubtedly frustrating, this is an issue that many others continue to face today.
In order to help you curb this process, we’ve laid out an in-depth nutritional guide on the best ways to introduce protein and BCAAs into your diet, as well as provide the best supplements to help you do so. Once armed with the knowledge for success, you’ll be able to achieve results.
That said, we won’t keep you any longer. Here’s how you fit in more protein and BCAAs.
Fitting Protein and BCAAs into your diet
How to effectively introduce Protein
Protein is one of the most critical macronutrients in the human body. Your hair, skin, eyes, brain, and muscle are all made of protein. On average, each person’s total body weight is around 17% protein. Consuming enough of it from your diet is important for the body to function properly.
Not having enough protein in your system can lead to largely preventable problems like muscle loss, hair loss, poor body composition, and less overall functionality to name a few.
Getting the right amount of protein is easier said than done.
Regardless of what your goals are or if you’re following a certain guide, we can all agree that meal prepping is a neverending challenge. Let’s take a quick look at everything we need to do.
While effective on paper, the reality is most of us don’t have the time to constantly think about, buy, prepare, store, and eat perfectly adjusted portions of certain foodstuffs at several specific times throughout the day. But, if you can consistently do this, all the more power to you.
Otherwise, it’s best to take a different approach.
Good news is you’re not alone in this endeavor. Like you, most reasonable consumers try to fit more protein in only to find the process shortlived. This can happen for any number of reasons, like not enough time, incorrect estimations, too many labels, or usually a combination thereof.
You’re probably wondering how to fit more protein in.
The best way to naturally get more protein is to simply narrow down your diet to a small group of easily trackable whole foods. We’ve outlined our 10 favorite foods high in protein here. Although, diet isn’t often enough so you’ll likely fare better with the use of a supplement.
Protein supplements are, as their name suggests, products you use to supplement your regular dietary intake with extra protein. They offer a lot of helpful traits like versatility, long shelf life, and especially value. What interests us the most is their ability to precisely measure dosages.
This makes them incredibly helpful for mending the nutritional gap for when you aren’t able to hit your daily intake goal. They can be used in just about any situation, which is great.
So, what’s the best protein supplement?
There are many different types of supplements, but we’re strong proponents of whey. This is because whey protein is made up of all 9 EAAs (essential amino acids) and is low in lactose.
Interestingly, whey protein is the watery byproduct in cheese production. For example, when you open a yogurt and see a small layer of liquid- that’s unpowdered, healthy protein-rich whey.
Furthermore, whey protein generally tastes better, has more variety, and is the best value. If you’re interested in finding a great powder, check out our top 10 whey protein supplements.
How to effectively introduce BCAAs
Formally known as Branched Chain Amino Acids, BCAAs are made up of the three essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These multipurpose aminos are an athletic ‘holy grail’ of sorts and can only be obtained through dietary means. In addition to being part of the 9 EAAs required to build muscle, BCAAs are known to have many other health-enhancing benefits.
A few well-known benefits include faster recovery, muscle growth, and more energy. More specifically, these three amino-acids have been shown to replenish glycogen stores in muscle. In short, glycogen is your body’s preferred energy source, thus increasing exercise capacity.
What’s the best way to get BCAAs?
Most sedentary people obtain all their BCAAs by eating a diverse diet. As it stands, BCAAs are widely occurring in many parts of nature, albeit at varying levels depending on the source. Foods naturally high in BCAAs are chicken, nuts, grains, eggs, and fish while vegetables and fruit contain much less. Although, it should be noted most people don’t need extra BCAAs.
However, those of you who that work out or are athletes are inclined to consume more. This is because you burn through more BCAAs than you likely take in, leading to a nutritional deficit. This can potentially cause a halt in athletic performance or even worse, regress your progress.
In this case, your best option is to utilize a supplement.
BCAA supplements can help bridge the nutritional gap on several fronts. In addition to supplying key amino-acids for muscle-protein synthesis, you’ll also be helping your body recover quicker and have more energy. Although, not all BCAA supplements are created equally.
So you know, unless a supplement tells you it’s plant-based or fermented, then it’s likely made from human hair or duck feathers. While technically harmless and arguably just as effective, we still prefer to have the nutrition we put in our bodies come from less.. questionable sources.
Here’s what we recommend.
When it comes to BCAAs supplements, we’re pretty thorough. Factors like a proper clinically effective dosage ratio (2:1:1 leucine, isoleucine, valine), purity, brand history, value and ingredient sources are taken into consideration. Moreover, we also test each one ourselves.
That being said, you can rest assured knowing these 10 BCAA supplements are of high quality and great value. If you’re looking to add one to your arsenal, we highly recommend them. Moreover, you can take BCAAs pre, intra, or post-workout and still reap their full benefits.
While supplements can undoubtedly help speed things up, they shouldn’t be fully relied upon. So long as you don’t go crazy and replace your dietary intake with protein powder for food and BCAAs for energy, you’ll do fine. Just remember the basics of proper rest, healthy habits, and to eat good food. In time your results will show, and so to shall your goals.
If you want to take a supplement to help you get there faster, feel free- and good luck!