nuts, soy, beans, legumes

Rehab Your Metabolism with Protein

Here's how much athletes should be eating.

Metabolic rates (the number of calories your body needs to function) vary, says Brian St. Pierre, RD, CSCS, director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to gain weight if you have a naturally slow metabolism. Activity levels and food choices can counterbalance it, according to a 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  

In part, protein works because it’s the most satiating macronutrient, thought to suppress ghrelin, the hunger hormone; and increase the release of hormones that tell your body it’s full. 

Other studies have shown that diets higher in protein have also been shown to speed metabolism after meals since it's converted into sugar or fat much more slowly than carbohydrates. Twenty to 30 percent of the usable energy in protein goes to metabolism as compared to five to ten percent for carbs.

How much protein you need

Athletes might need to consume more than previously thought to maintain their fitness levels. St. Pierre suggests eating four to six palm-sized portions of protein a day for women and six to eight for men. The quality matters, too: Plant sources such as nuts, beans, and tofu provide protein without the high fat and cholesterol of red meats.