Last year, we were lucky enough to secure exclusive interviews with Men’s Health cover model finalist Leon Williams and eventual 2011 winner Gareth Nedoszytko. If you missed out on either of these interviews be sure to check them out as soon as possible, they really are an inspiring look into what it takes to achieve an optimal level of health and fitness.

One thing that was clear with both of these athletes is that there was a constant drip feed approach to consuming protein throughout each and every day. Now we all know that protein is an essential component of everyone’s diet, whether you exercise or not and regardless of whether your chosen activity is long distance running or weight lifting.

The Importance Of Protein

Protein is the building block from which all life exists and is essential for both cell growth and tissue repair. All proteins derive from numerous combinations of compounds called amino acids, of which there are 20 in total. Of the 20 amino acids, 11 are considered non-essential, which means that they can be produced by the body. The remaining 9 are considered essential amino acids and cannot be produced by the body. Consequently, these must be derived from the protein consumed within your diet.

Research has indicated that endurance athletes require approximately 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight per day whilst the protein requirements of individuals undertaking weight training, depending on their training intensity, can range from 2.0 – 2.6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

Now this is all well and good in theory, but if you’re a 100kg individual, undertaking regular weight training, the effort and discipline to consume between 200 – 260 grams of protein per day can be extremely difficult – especially when you consider that a chicken breast or a tin of tuna contains only 40g.

Here at FitnessBeans, we understand that you’re not all gourmet chefs and that consuming this amount of protein sometimes seems impossible. Consequently, we’ve considered the diet plans of both Leon and Gareth and will utilise this article to highlight just how they managed to make their diets both enjoyable and effective. So for those of you that simply run out of ideas when it comes to high protein snacks and meals, fear not, simply read on and learn from the best.

Protein Rich Diet Plan

From evaluating the diet plans of both of these athletes it was clear that they both followed several generic rules:

  • Consume 6 small sized meals, spaced evenly throughout the day.
  • Ensure that protein is present within each of these 6 meals.
  • Consume the majority of carbohydrates by midday.
  • Ensure that all carbohydrates eaten are of a low glycemic index.
  • Allow yourself one cheat day every two weeks.

Consuming numerous small sized meals throughout the day helps to maintain an enhanced metabolism whilst ensuring protein is present in each and every meal means that your body never goes longer than several hours within a protein hit.

With regards to the carbohydrates, consuming the majority before midday gives you adequate time to burn them off and prevent any additional storage, whilst ensuring a low glycemic index reduces hunger sensations and maintains a stable blood sugar level.

Finally, allowing yourself one cheat day every so often reduces your cravings and quite frankly, keeps you from going crazy!

Example Meal Plan

Ok, now for the section of the article you’ve all been waiting for – example snack ideas and meal plans consumed by Leon and Gareth throughout their training regime. Let’s start with breakfast:

  • Eggs on a single piece of wholemeal toast
  • A tin of tuna followed by a banana
  • Low fat natural Greek yoghurt mixed with whey protein
  • Porridge mixed with whey protein

As you can see, each of the above ideas contains a healthy dosage of protein and the addition of a low glycemic index carbohydrate.

Now let’s move onto lunch and your evening meal: Both should contain a choice of meat, such as chicken, turkey, beef or fish. This can then be served alongside vegetables, salad or wholemeal pasta or rice. Remember the advice given above about consuming the majority of carbohydrates before midday, so it might be worthwhile utilising your pasta or rice options at lunch time and saving the vegetables and salad for your evening meal.

Healthy Snacks

Finally, we move onto the snacks which should be consumed in between each main meal and prior to going to sleep at night. Depending on what meal ideas you have opted for throughout the day, these can include the following:

  • A tin of tuna
  • A selection of nuts, including almonds and walnuts
  • Whey protein shake
  • Low fat natural Greek yoghurt mixed with whey protein
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs

This marks the end of this article, we hope you have found it beneficial and it has given you some inspiration as to where to find your protein sources to meet your growing needs. Remember, these meal plans have been successfully tried and tested by both Leon and Gareth so in that respect, the proof in definitely in the pudding. Happy eating!