In order for your body to build muscle, produce hormones, and fight off viruses and bacteria, you need to get enough protein in your diet. Proteins are large, complex molecules comprised of long amino acid chains. These make up the structure of your body’s tissues and organs. Without protein, your body could not function properly.
Unfortunately, the body’s ability to break down and absorb protein decreases with age. Countering this is not as easy as simply drinking more milk or having an extra egg with breakfast. Adjustments are required to compensate for poor protein absorption. Here are some great ways to improve the process.
Eat Acidic Foods
Your body can’t absorb proteins in their natural state. Certain proteases in your stomach and pancreas break the bonds that hold the amino acids in protein together so your body can absorb the composite amino acids individually.
To help with this process, try eating and drinking more acidic foods like orange juice, vinegar and most types of fruit. These contain proteases that can make your stomach a more acidic environment for breaking down protein.
Take Vitamin B-6
Pyridoxine is another name for vitamin B-6. Its primary purposes are to help enzymes break down protein and carry the dismantled amino acids to the blood stream. Vitamin B-6 is essential to get the most from your protein intake.
Fortunately, if you’re already trying to eat more protein, that means you’re probably getting more vitamin B-6. That’s because both types of nutrients are found in meat, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and whole grains.
Even after the body has broken down proteins into its simplest amino acid form, the work isn’t done yet. How well your body utilizes these amino acids dictates how you benefit from the protein-rich foods you eat.
By consuming carbohydrates with your protein, your body releases insulin. Elevated insulin levels help your muscles absorb amino acids, especially during muscle-building exercises. That means eating carbohydrates right before a high-intensity workout yields the best protein-absorbing results. Foods that contain complex carbohydrates include starchy food, whole grains, nuts, seeds and dairy products.
Protein Before and After Workouts
In addition to eating complex carbohydrates right before a workout, it’s also beneficial to eat protein immediately before and after exercise to give your body an ample supply of amino acids to absorb during and after exertion.
These tips can help you maximize the protein you put into your body, resulting in a more muscular physique and overall better health. As always, be sure to contact your healthcare provider with any questions.