If it’s one thing we’ve found after years of working in the gym setting with those who have weight loss or fitness performance goals it’s this:
Many are not getting enough protein.
Why eat more protein?
- Repairs and helps your body’s tissues: hair, skin, nails, and muscles (if used) GROW!
- Allows your body to produce important molecules like enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies for good immune function.
- Provides a stable feeling of satiety when eating.
- Helps control body fat by initiating a hormone parade that releases stored glycogen and fatty acids to be used for fuel instead of camping out around your mid-section.
How much protein do I need each day to get these benefits?
- By the numbers: If you’re a numbers-person and like to track, aim for around 0.64-0.9 gram per pound of bodyweight of protein per day. Upping that toward 1 gram per pound of body weight may help you feel even more satisfied after eating as well as help maintain a healthy body composition and good immune function.
Another way to look at it:
- Women – 1 serving of lean, complete protein (20-30g) with each meal, every few hours. (Or, if you eat less frequently, eat a bit more protein with each meal).
- Men – 2 servings of lean, complete protein (40-60g) with each meal, every few hours. (Or, if you eat less frequently, eat a bit more protein with each meal).
This pattern of intake will make sure you’re getting enough protein to reap all the benefits that this macronutrient has to offer. Not just the protein synthetic benefits. [source: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein]
If numbers aren’t your thing, use your palm as a guide. In our (Even More) Awesome Challenge, we aim for a Palm (or two) of Protein on each Plate to reach these markers.
==> Given these recommendations, a 150 lb female should be consuming around 115 – 150 grams of protein a day. We find many (women, especially) hardly reach around 50 grams! Yikes!! Often, the macronutrient gap is filled instead with an over-abundance of carbohydrates and fat, a combination that makes body fat loss very difficult to achieve. By shifting protein intake up, you crowd out the excess sugar (all carbs turn to sugar in the body) and higher fat foods that may not be serving your goals.
What types of foods are protein-dense?
- Lean/extra-lean cuts of beef
- Lean pork (ie – pork tenderloin)
- Wild game (venison, elk, etc)
- Eggs (egg whites = pure protein)
Fish, Seafood and Shellfish
- Cottage Cheese
- Plain yogurt / Greek yogurt
- Protein powders (ex – whey protein, bone broth)
And what if I’m not a big meat-eater or want plant-based options?
- Leafy greens (handfuls)
- Tofu, Tempeh
- Vegetarian protein powders (soy, hemp, rice, pea, etc)
If you meal prep anything, meal prep PROTEIN.
Convenience is king here, so if you’re going to focus on batch-prepping any of your food for the week, start with protein. Having lean proteins handy will make it so much easier to ensure you’re getting enough to support your function and physique needs.
Here are some ideas!
Dump a 3 lb bag of frozen chicken breasts into the crockpot for 6-8 hours. Remove, drain, and shred – store in containers in fridge for grab and go handfuls on salad, on sandwiches, mix with salsa or taco seasoning or add to soups for more bulk.
Brown a few lbs of lean ground beef or turkey and make this hash to store in fridge for the week. Enjoy with a little siracha and eggs in the morning or with some smart carbs like sweet potatoes or brown rice.
Wrap up some salmon with veggies in foil for a quick dinner.
Substitute flour in baking with vanilla protein powder, like we did with these Sunbutter Banana Oat Muffins.
Mix a scoop of high-quality protein powder into your morning bowl of oatmeal – we also love to add chia seeds and cinnamon.
Chicken sausage (pre-cooked) is a delicious and quick way to get protein in any meal. One of our favorites is Maple Apple Chicken Sausage with Sweet Potatoes.
Lesser-known protein powders like Hemp seeds/powder and Bone Broth powder are super nutrient-dense ways to get muscle-building, fat-burning protein in! Here’s a smoothie recipe with both. This Green Gym Monster smoothie is always a hit, too!
Making a simple protein-packed Egg Casserole for the week can be a great breakfast to reheat for on-the-go.
In a pinch, high-quality protein bars like Oatmega can be helpful to keep you satisfied until your next meal.
Use canned tuna or salmon to form patties for a batch of delicious burgers to grab all week.
Keep it simple and throw some steak on spinach or grab a pre-bagged salad from the grocery story and add a few boiled eggs (so good!) for an easy lunch.
We hope this gives you an array of ideas and a big dose of confidence to consume more protein in your day!
Peace, love, and muscles ~
Jess + Team Valeo