Updated: Jan 29
One of the first places to look when assessing your nutrition is at your protein intake.
Getting adequate protein is important!
☑ Greater satiety: protein eaten throughout the day will help you feel full and maintain energy
☑ High thermic effect: The digestive process of breaking down & absorbing protein burns more calories than that of carbohydrates or fats
☑ Repair & recovery: protein helps your body repair from stress on a cellular level
☑ Lean body mass gain: protein is the most important macronutrient to support building muscle mass
☑ Fat burning hormones: Protein regulates hormones that control fat storage
Great sources of protein include lean red meats, chicken, pork, shellfish, fish, eggs & organic dairy. Protein is also found in whole grains, legumes etc.
The Challenge: Hit your protein target!
Most people who are working out and looking to build muscle and/or reduce body fat should have at least their lean body mass in grams of protein and up to their ideal body weight in grams of protein. Find this range by taking your lean body mass in grams of protein (low end of the range) and go up to your ideal body weight in grams. Determine your lean body mass by this calculator.
For example, I am currently 150lb, which also happens to be my ideal body weight. My protein intake range would be 108g - 150g of protein daily. (The 108g number was found by the lean body mass calculator). I aim for 120+ grams of protein per day.
Tracking: Now you will use the app MyFitnessPal to accurately track your protein intake. You only need to track & record your protein sources (weighed/measured). You will earn your points for hitting your protein range (at least your lean body mass in grams of protein) each day. Usually weigh/measure your protein RAW, but in the app you can choose between "raw" or "cooked."
Protein For Breakfast:
Egg/Egg White Veggie Omelette: 2 whole eggs, 1/2 cup egg whites, spinach + veggies of choice (25 g protein)
Baked Egg Whites & Oats: 1/2 cup egg whites, 1/2 cup of oats, cinnamon to taste. Can also add mashed banana (18 g protein)
Protein Oats: 1 scoop protein powder, 1/2 cup of oats (av. 26 g protein)
Greek Yogurt with Berries (av. 18 g protein)
Kodiak Cakes Pancakes, adding milk + 1 egg to batter (21 g protein per 3x4" pancakes)
Greek yogurt with berries (av. 24 g protein)
Protein bar (for the Challenge it must be whole food ingredients) & medium banana (av. 21 g protein)
Light string cheese, beef/turkey jerky (for the Challenge: no additives or artificial sweeteners) & apple (av. 18 g protein)
Tuna pouches & crackers (av. 33 g protein)
2 hard boiled eggs (12 g protein)
Smoked salmon & cucumbers (av. 24 g protein)
Cottage cheese (av. 28 g protein)
Turkey sausage + light cheese (av. 16 g protein)
Plant Based Protein Sources:
Black beans (1 cup = 14 g protein)
Lentils (1 cup = 18 g protein)
Hemp seeds (3 tbsp = 10 g protein)
Pumpkin seeds (1/4 cug = 9 g protein)
Peas (1 cup = 8 g protein)
Chickpeas (1 cup = 12 g protein)
Quinoa (1 cup = 8 g protein)
Meat/Animal Sources to Consider:
Salmon (26 g protein per 100 g)
Bison (21 g protein per 100 g)
Egg (av. 6.3 g protein per egg)
Chicken (23 g protein per 100 g)
Beef (20 g protein per 100 g)
Turkey (22 g protein per 100 g)
Pork (27 g protein per 100 g)
Tuna (30 g protein per 100 g)
Milk (8 g protein per 1 cup) * variety of skim/whole/1% etc only changes fat/calorie content
Cheese (about 7 g protein per ounce, varies by type)
Cottage cheese (1 cup = 30 g protein)
Greek yogurt (2/3 cup = 18 g protein
Cheap Protein Sources:
** All protein amount listed above might vary slightly by brand/kind/cut/serving size etc.
Build your meals/snacks around protein (Use the above ideas for protein sources)
Drink a protein shake: buy pre-made one or buy the powder and mix with liquid (water, almond milk, milk, etc) or even make it into a smoothie with fruit/greens/yogurt/etc. I usually need 1 protein shake or bar per day to help me hit my target.
If you like pasta use lentil or whole grain pasta to add protein to your meal (I buy the POW! brand at Sprouts), great taste, 14 g protein per 2 oz serving)
Buy protein sources in bulk and/or stock up when they are on sale. It can also help to cook a protein source in bulk as a meal prep hack.
Go lean when you can! Leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (eye of round, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts. The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham. Boneless skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choices.
Choose seafood at least twice a week as the main protein food. Look for seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and herring. Frozen shrimp also make a quick protein to cook with a side of rice & veggies.
Check labels! Limit added sodium, avoid nitrates and additives when possible