I realized my protein intake was low when I started lifting weights

I realized my protein intake was low when I started lifting weights

Salmon fillet (left) and the author after a 15k race (right)
Julia Pugachevsky

  • I’ve been doing running as my main form of exercise for years and haven’t paid much attention to my diet.
  • When I started lifting weights, I realized I wasn’t getting enough protein daily.
  • Adding more salmon, eggs, canned fish and protein powder has made a huge difference in my fitness.

When I first started running in my mid-20s, I felt like I was in the healthiest I’d ever been. I was running a few miles every other day, not really caring what I ate. However, I felt more emboldened to consume whatever I wanted because I was “burning it off” with exercise.

Over the years, I got more serious about running, joining a local group, and finishing my first half marathon. While I could still run the distances I wanted, I noticed that I would feel exhausted afterward and wouldn’t be able to keep up with others as easily.

However, I didn’t think much about it because I felt fine. For years, I was unwittingly followed Mediterranean diet– Give up red meat in favor of fish, eggs, whole grains and vegetables. My annual blood tests were completely normal. I was still exercising regularly without any injuries.

But recently, I realized that I had been depriving my body of essential nutrients for years.

I started lifting weights and had a hard time making progress

Earlier this year, my girlfriend found an introductory weightlifting class and we decided to try it out of curiosity. We fell in love with the gym, both got annual memberships, and started going several times a week.

Although it got a little easier with practice, I would sometimes feel dizzy in the middle of workouts and feel completely exhausted afterwards Weight lifting. I also struggled to gain weight, always choosing the lightest weights possible.

My friend used a protein calculator to figure out the ideal amount of protein based on her height and weight and started eating more meat and protein powder supplements. I watched her quickly move to heavier weights and look ripped as hell, so I knew it was time to examine my diet.

Calculating enough meals to last a few days, I found that I was only getting about 30 grams of protein per day, which is well below the minimum recommended amount of protein for women, which is 46 grams (and more if you’re actively working out). Outside).

Apparently, the oatmeal I ate every morning, which I assumed was a protein goldmine, had little to no effect.

Simple adjustments made a huge difference

If I’m in a pinch, I’ll make some eggs and eat some canned fish. (Chili oil and small pickles do add protein, but are mandatory nonetheless.)
Julia Pugachevsky

I decided to get serious about adding more protein to my diet.

I haven’t really added any new foods to my vegan diet, but I have focused on incorporating more protein-rich food items. I started by adding salmon and vegetables to my usual plate of tofu stir-fries and lentil curry.

I also looked for quick, high-protein snacks to grab in a pinch. Canned fish, eggs, and smoothies with plant-based protein powder all give me a little boost without a lot of effort on my part. Sometimes I add a scoop of protein powder to my coffee, which makes it a little slimy and gross, but I’m a big fan of exercise. This is my life now.

Smoothie with protein powder.
Julia Pugachevsky

As a result, I generally eat lighter meals and feel full throughout the day. I also don’t crash as much as I used to.

Gaining more muscle has made me a better runner too

After I ran the fastest pace ever in a 15k race.
Julia Pugachevsky

As expected, I began to see immediate and long-term improvements in weightlifting class. I could lift heavier weights and have more energy on the days I ate more protein, and I started to notice visible slivers of quadriceps after a few months. Additionally, as someone with ADHD, I don’t swear as much in class now as I used to Eat more protein and fatty fish.

But one of the best side effects was how much easier it was to run. Now, racing longer distances, I can move faster without as much fatigue. I recently set a speed record for myself.

I’m planning to run a full marathon next year, and the thought of training is already scaring me! But with a better diet, at least I know I’ll be doing my best on protein.

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