Protein – it’s what every gym rat likes to talk about.
The truth is, protein is very important for everyone looking to maximize their health. To keep it simple, protein is made up of the building blocks of tissue – amino acids. In addition to muscle, protein also makes up hair, skin, nails, hormones, and enzymes.
Besides being important for rebuilding muscle, protein has a few other pretty important attributes;
- Protein helps with satiety, or fullness, and will help control overall intake and hunger pangs (especially late at night!)
- 20-35% of calories from protein are burned through digestion or the Thermic Effect Of Food (vs. 5-15% from carbs, and 0-5% from fat) – so eating a higher protein diet keeps your metabolism revved up. Have you ever gotten the meat sweats after eating a ton of meat? It’s a real thing.
Where Do I Get Protein?
High protein foods are pretty much anything that comes from the flesh of animals, or anything produced by an animal that is edible (milk, eggs, and dairy-based protein powders).
High protein, non-animal sources include tofu and beans – which also are a moderate protein source at best and also a significant carbohydrate source.
What About Protein Shakes?
Protein shakes are technically supplements – but, they are whole food supplements. They are made from whole foods like milk, eggs, meats, or plants. They are a GREAT option to help fill in some gaps in your nutrition and are NOT just for gym bros.
Protein powders have come a very long way, and most are actually quite tasty. I recommend building a custom blend based on your needs over at TrueNutrition.com – and use coupon code “MGFITLIFE” to save some $$$
Protein is the most under-consumed macronutrient in the average American diet. For a healthy, lean, and active individual looking to maximize performance (performance not necessarily meaning athletic performance, but overall performance throughout the day to day tasks), health, and overall strength, I always recommend eating 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
(200 lb. healthy male = 200g of protein per day, 150 lb healthy female = 150g protein).
The current US RDA for protein is a sad recommendation of 46 grams per day for females and 56 grams per day for males. These are the level you need to be at to prevent muscle wasting. Not optimal health, but the bare-bones minimum to make sure you don’t get too fit and healthy. Just another reason to trust the government…
Where this recommendation changes a bit is in overweight or obese individuals.
If looking to lose body fat, a caloric deficit is still crucial, and if somebody is 300 pounds, eating 300 grams of protein per day might not be possible or necessary.
In these cases, I like to use 1.25 grams per pound of Lean Body Mass.
Let’s say that someone is 260 pounds, and 40% body fat. 260 x .4 = 104 pounds of body fat. Taking the total weight (260) minus the body fat (104) gives us 156 pounds of lean body mass x 1.25 = 195 grams of protein.
If you are serious about your training (or health for that matter), you need to be serious about your protein intake.
Training is catabolic – meaning it breaks down muscle tissue. Sufficient protein is key for proper recovery and boosting performance. Yes, you actually BREAK DOWN muscle in the gym and build it outside of the gym!
If you are more sedentary, maybe it’s time to consider getting some weight training in – but that’s for another time. Our bodies eventually get to a point in our 30s and 40s where we start losing muscle mass – aka sarcopenia.
It’s been proven that this process can be slowed or even reversed by following even a basic full-body strength program and eating enough protein to facilitate recovery and maintain muscle mass.
How Do I Start Getting More?
Take a good look at how much protein you currently eat, and most likely you will be looking to increase your intake. If you are currently eating 100 grams, and your goal is 200 grams, I don’t recommend trying to make that jump overnight.
First, try to find what your consistent daily average is. For this example, we are going with 100 grams.
Then, try increasing by 10 grams per day for the whole week (110 grams per day). Keep increasing by 5-10 grams per day every week until you get close to your goal intake.
When people focus on increasing their protein intake, they start cutting out less nutritious foods, especially foods that are loaded with junk carbs and greasy fats – because most processed junk is high in carbs and fats, but not protein.
By simply starting slow, and slowly increasing until you get to your desired goal intake, you will be one step ahead of everyone else who is still trying to jump from fad diet to fad diet.
Now go get that protein!
If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.
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