In order to see the results you would like from your current exercise program, proper nutrition needs to be in place and it needs coincide with your fitness goals. In the previous article different aspects of clean eating were discussed to give you a better idea of what foods should be included in your program and how to find them.

We are going to talk about each of the macronutrients, their basic functions in the body, good sources of each, and how one's intake of them can be adjusted to help reach fitness goals. In this particular column the focus will be on protein.

When starting to incorporate nutrition into your fitness plan, protein will be an important factor and will play a very big role in helping you achieve your goals. Each meal or snack that you consume should have a proper portion of protein in it.

Your body will break down protein into available amino acids to be used in not only the repair of muscle tissue, but also every metabolic process in the body. This is especially important when you are working out and breaking down muscle tissue, which then needs to be repaired and build back up by having these amino acids readily available. Another great reason to include protein in each meal is that it has a thermogenic, or fat burning effect, when it's being broken down and digested.

Basically, this means that your body has to work a little harder and therefore burn more calories, which contributes to an overall increased metabolism. In fact, about 30 percent of the calories you take in from protein are burned just through digestion. A faster metabolism is always a good thing when you're trying to lose body fat.

In addition to the metabolic benefits of protein, some other benefits that you can feel more immediately include feeling more satisfied for longer after meals and balancing blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day.

Getting the right portions of protein for each meal is very important and will be different for each individual. An easy way to measure portion size is by using your own hands; one palm size for women, two palms for men.

Good quality protein choices include chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, and whey protein isolate powders. For meat or dairy free eaters, some plant-based protein choices include quinoa, beans, legumes, and lentils.

When you are developing a plan to decrease body fat, or increase lean body mass, be sure to include enough of this super-important macronutrient.

Lia Taylor and Dan Colegrove are both Certified Personal Trainers. Lia Taylor is also a Certified Nutrition Educator. Lia is an ACEĀ® Certified Personal Trainer and a S.M.A.R.T. Certified Personal Trainer; she can be reached at Liataylor87@gmail.com.Dan Colegrove is a S.M.A.R.T. Certified Personal Trainer.