How To Eat More Protein Each Day
The biggest thing I hear from beginning clients is how hard it is to hit your protein goal, especially if you’ve already hit your carb and fat macros. If you struggle with this, you’re not the only one and believe me when I say, the answer to the issue isn’t hard to obtain. We’re going to dive into how to hit your protein goals every single day with just a few easy tweaks.
What Is Protein
Protein is a macronutrient (the others are carbs and fats) that are crucial to be included in your diet. Protein must come from your food, and while it’s most often found in animal protein, it’s also present in both complete/incomplete forms through various foods like legumes. Proteins are complex molecules made up of hundreds of thousands of little units, called amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. A complete source of protein is a protein that contains all of the essential amino acids.
Complete proteins are derived mostly from animal sources such as
- Dairy (Whey, Cheese, Milk, Yogurt)
RELATED ARTICLE Greek Yogurt: The Best Food For Weight Loss
Vegetable Sources that are considered to be complete sources of protein include but are not limited to
- Edamame (Soy)
- Chia Seeds
Vegetable sources that are considered to be incomplete sources of protein include but are not limited to
- Legumes (which are the richest source of plant-based protein Lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas) [R].
- Beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, lima, navy, pinto, white, kidney)
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts)
- Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds)
- Nut Butters (Peanut, Macadamia, Cashew, Almond)
RELATED ARTICLE Nut Butters: Are They All That They’re Cracked Up To Be?
What Is Protein Good For
Protein is good for everything in the body from making muscle and bones, to regulating hormone and enzyme function, as well as being used as an energy source. Just about every part of your body, from your bones, skin, tissues, muscles, organs, and hair, need protein. It helps carry oxygen throughout your body and to keep your immune system healthy. Sound important? It is!
What Happens If Don’t Get Enough Protein Each Day
If you don’t get enough protein or don’t hit your daily protein goal (or even come close to it), chances are you’re going to lose that hard-earned muscle rather than body fat. Doing this slows down your metabolic ability to burn calories at rest and during an activity that you want to burn so that you can achieve your aesthetic goals. Not only will your metabolism slow, you’ll catabolize your muscle, but you’ll lose energy, become sluggish, and potentially experience changes in your hormone function. Yikes! Protein is a lot more important than you thought, huh?
How Much Protein Should I Eat?
Depending on your activity level and body composition goals, it’s recommended that you get anywhere from 0.8g/kg body weight and 1.8g/kg of body weight. If you’re looking to build lean muscle mass, cut body fat, workout more, or perform at an athletic level, then bump up that protein target.
For basic muscle protein synthesis (the muscle-building process) to occur in individuals who perform high-intensity training (HIIT), functional fitness, or high-intensity functional training (HIFT), intake rises to about 1.4-2.0 g/kg (that’s about 0.63-0.9 g/lb) of body mass.
How To Calculate Protein Macro
Here’s what you will need to know before calculating your protein intake:
- How many calories do you eat in a day (roughly, we’ll use 2300 calories for example)
- Determine your ideal ratio of protein, carbs, and fat (we’ll use 50% carbs, 25% protein, 25% fat for example)
- Multiply your daily calories by your percentages
- Divide your calorie totals by its calorie-per-gram number
How to calculate protein intake based on 2,300 calories per day
Protein: 2,300 x 0.25 = 575 calories from protein
How to calculate protein intake into grams
Protein (4 calories per gram): 575 divided by 4 = 143.75g protein per day
RELATED ARTICLE: The Ultimate Guide To Understanding Macronutrients
How To Track Your Macros?
How to track your macros is interchangeable with how to count your macros and it’s really quite simple and straight forward:
Read nutrition labels
Use a food scale or measuring cups instead of eyeballing
Log your intake on a food tracking app or in a journal
By doing these three steps, you can better understand just how many calories are in foods and what you’re putting into your body in order to be more aware of how they influence your body composition, energy levels, and performance.
How To Eat More Protein Tip #1
Eat protein with every meal she said. Why did she say? Because it’ll be easier to hit your daily goal, she said! Not only does eating protein at every meal making hitting your protein goal a lot easier than getting to 9 pm and realizing you have 80 grams left, but it’ll feel more full and full for longer. Protein also balances blood sugar and insulin levels, avoiding the blood sugar roller coaster. Last bonus of doing this? You’ll be able to have a more revved up metabolism right after your meal and even as you recover while you sleep.
How To Eat More Protein Tip #2
When you sit down to eat your plate of food, eat the protein source off of it first, saving the starches/carbs for last. When protein hits the stomach first, the production of PYY (gut hormone, secreted by the lower small intestine) helps with fullness and giving you more satiety from your food.
How To Eat More Protein Tip #3
Consider using a high-quality protein powder to supplement your daily protein goal. Not only is it a great way to boost your protein intake by 25-30g in a single setting, it tastes delicious, is easily digestible, and simple/affordable way to do it.
Plant protein vs animal protein, which one is better? Well, a large body of evidence shows that animal protein sources provide better amino acid delivery, digestibility, and protein content than plant protein sources. This is especially important for athletes, as getting the vital amino acids after training is crucial to initiate the muscle rebuilding process. However, if you live a vegan, or vegetarian lifestyle, getting an adequate amount of protein from multiple plant protein sources will ensure that you get the amino acids you need for optimal health and wellness.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Whey Protein Isolate (animal protein)
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: PLANTPRO5 (vegan protein)
How To Eat More Protein Tip #4
Have protein-rich snacks on hand, paired with having 4-8oz of protein/meat during your meals, and you’re going to be sitting pretty with your protein goal for the day. Sure, you could snack on carrots and celery all day, but they’re not going to help your waistline like protein would (we do recommend eating your veggies, too though!).
High protein snack ideas:
Protein Peanut Butter Bites
Quest Protein Chips
Yogurt Dip w/ veggies
Protein Rice Crispy Treats
Power Crunch Bars
RX Nut Butter
How To Eat More Protein Tip #5
Blend up a pre-workout, post-workout, or snack in the way of a smoothie, because, who doesn’t love a good smoothie?! By adding in ingredients like greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, unflavored tofu, or protein powder, you can get a delicious snack with tons of protein that is a whole lot different than chicken and rice. Plus, there’s a ton of antioxidants and micronutrients to be had from your smoothie when you add in vegetables and fruits, such as berries and spinach, for example.
Protein sources to add to your smoothies include:
How To Eat More Protein Tip #6
Another great way to get 10-20 quick, quality grams of protein in through the day? Consider supplementing with an unflavored collagen powder that mixes easily into coffee, smoothies, soups, and protein shakes. Collagen is commonly referred to as the glue that holds your body together and your body naturally produces collagen from certain vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. However, Collagen production naturally declines as you age.
While collagen powder definitely shouldn’t replace your post-workout protein shake (read more about that here), it’s a great addition to just about any food or drink and is a wonderful way to replenish your body. Add it to your morning coffee or latte as a creamer, pancakes, and banana muffins just to name a few.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Swolverine’s Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder (Unflavored)
RELATED ARTICLE: The Ultimate Guide To Collagen - Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects
How To Eat More Protein: Conclusion
Eating protein and hitting your protein target each day might seem hard, but with a little planning and prioritizing, you can become a protein powerhouse in no time! By making sure you have 20-30g protein with every snack and meal, supplementing with a powder if deemed necessary, and choosing more foods that have protein in them (not just carbs and fat), you’ll be well on your way towards feeling, looking and performing better.
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