The Fit Girl's Guide to Protein

Your all-in-one handbook to the star muscle builder in your kitchen.

Steak Cobb Salad

It’s a no-brainer that protein helps you stay lean and strong, but maybe you’re unsure exactly just how much you should be getting to reach your current fitness goals. Your gym buff boyfriend recommends one thing, but your nutritionist says another, and that article you just read online tells you something else altogether. We’ve got the real scoop on protein, including why you need it, the best types to choose, and the amount you should consume to look and feel your best.

Building Block Basics

Protein’s main function is to build and repair the body’s tissues, including muscles, plus synthesize hormones and enzymes. Since protein is constantly being broken down, it’s vital to consume this all-important macronutrient at every meal, and especially after strenuous workouts. Protein is made up of two groups of 20 amino acids, including both essential (your body doesn’t make them, so you can get them only from what you eat) and non-essential (your body synthesizes from other compounds such as fats and carbohydrates) aminos. They can be further broken into two classes, complete and incomplete. A complete protein has the full essential amino acid profile in the correct ratios; an incomplete protein lacks one or more essential amino acids.

SEE ALSO: The New Rules of Nutrient Timing

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