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When it comes to strength training, we often question how much protein that we need to eat to build and maintain strong muscles. For a thorough answer, I asked Carra Richling, Senior Trainer and Registered Dietitian for The Ornish Lifestyle Programs.

Additional protein needs are based on the intensity of your personal exercise and weight training program.

Carra pointed me to several articles on Ornish Living that answer the question.

The first answers the question that many people who are starting out on the Ornish Program or on a vegan diet have, which is whether or not they will get enough protein? Dr. Ornish explains that you will get plenty, and that in fact, in the U.S. “most people (rich or poor) eat too much of it—at least twice as much protein as they need.” He reassures us that if you “consume an adequate number of non-sugar calories, it is very difficult to eat too little protein.” Additional protein needs are based on the intensity of your personal exercise and weight-training program.

If your training is moderate, increasing protein to 1 gm/kg (.45gm x lbs) body weight is sufficient. If you’re weight training at a moderate-high intensity or training for an athletic event such as a triathlon, you may increase your protein intake to 1.2 gm (.6gm x lbs). It is helpful for muscle recovery to consume protein 20-60 minutes post exercise. Here’s a good link to protein needs and sources for vegans.

Yesterday’s nutrition post by Carra also offers a lot of great tips on a smart approach to a vegetarian diet. A quick and portable post-workout protein snack is dry-roasted soy nuts mixed with some raisins. If you include dairy, try nonfat Greek yogurt with berries or make your own smoothie by blending it with some fruit and adding soy milk. See Ornish Kitchen sample recipes  for lots of ways to include heart-healthy protein into your day.

Quick and Easy Post-Workout Plant Protein Boosts

    • Hummus (see sample menu 1) on a whole grain English muffin, pita, or whole grain bread or crackers
    • Edamole (see sample menu 3), which is guacamole dip made with high protein edamame

What kind of protein boosts give you energy for a work out?

Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

Better Health Begins With You...

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