While we frequently hear that “the average American” gets plenty of protein in their diet, it’s important to remember that the average American doesn’t climb rocks, nor do they train to get better at climbing rocks. Most Americans don’t tax their muscles and tendons the way most climbers do, and thus most climbers need more recovery boosting protein than “the average American.” Now you might be a lean, mean, paleo, protein-crushing fiend, with no problem slamming 100+ grams of muscle building protein throughout the day–in that case, this post might not be very helpful to you. However, there’s also a chance that you’re a vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, or an omnivore who eats meat sparingly, and therefore might want to boost your protein intake to speed recovery during hard training cycles. If you fall into the latter category, here are three incredibly easy way to add more protein to your diet with incredibly minimal effort.
ONE: Give Your Water a Protein Boost.
Adding a scoop of protein powder (15-25 grams of protein depending on your brand of preference) to your water bottle is one of the easiest ways to increase your daily protein intake without adding too many calories or effort to your routine. While it might taste a little watery, I’d recommend adding your powder to about 32 ounces of water that you sip throughout the day to help space out your intake, which has been shown to better promote muscle growth and recovery better than eating a large quantity of protein just once or twice a day.
TWO: (Re)evaluate Your Breakfast.
Think about breakfast as your fuel base for the day instead of a meal to brush over because you’re rushed before work. Aim for a minimum of 15 grams of high-quality protein, ideally 20-25 grams, for breakfast. This is the equivalent of eating a cup of plain Greek yogurt (22 grams of protein), three large eggs (21 grams of protein), one cup of tofu (20 grams protein) as part of a tofu scramble, or oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder. Increasing your morning protein intake will also help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you full until lunch.
THREE: Eat a High-Protein Snack Before Bed.
Eating protein right before bed can help speed recovery by giving you a protein boost to rebuild your muscles and tendons as you sleep. Many body builders eat cottage cheese before bed, as its slow-to-digest proteins help prolong muscle synthesis. Don’t like/eat cottage cheese? Make a protein shake for your before bed snack, eat a bowl of plain yogurt, or enjoy a second helping of the protein portion of your dinner. Whatever your snack preference, aim for 20 grams of high-quality protein. If eating before bed makes you feel too full, try adding protein powder to a glass of water for a lighter snack.
Two Parting Notes:
- Eating a little more protein won’t make you bulk up, so if you’re worried about gaining muscle and getting “heavy” for climbing, don’t—it’s much harder to do than you think. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that simply eating a cup of cottage cheese before bed every night would turn you into a shredded body builder, so don’t worry that adding 20 to 40 grams of protein to your diet will immediately make you bulk up—especially if you’re a female; it’s much harder for females to put on muscle than males, as we have less testosterone.
- Make sure to eat high-quality protein at every meal, not just at breakfast or before bed. If you aim for 15-30 grams of protein at as many meals as possible and for your before-bed snack, you’ll be set without having to put too much thought into meal planning.
NOTE: I’ll be posting every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from now on instead of weekly. My excuse: I just got promoted to Assistant Youth Programs Director at EVO Louisville (super fun!), so I’m a bit more busy between my many jobs, and I’m super psyched on climbing outside in what little free time do I have.