( 3 MINUTE READ )
These next few weeks, I want to go over some of the basics in terms of nutrition. Macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs) are the three things that make up calories, which is a great place to start to understand food better. So today I’m going to start with PROTEIN!
Proteins break down into amino acids, which allow our muscles and other tissues to build and stay strong. Our bodies can only produce 13 out of the 22 amino acids that make up proteins. The 9 amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own are known as the essential amino acids. This means that we MUST get these through food. Fish, beef, pork, chicken and eggs are all examples of complete proteins (containing all 9 of the essential amino acids). Yes, there are plant based sources of protein but most of them are not complete proteins (they don’t contain all 9 of the essential amino acids). Another thing to note with plant based proteins is that they typically contain more carbs than protein. For example, to get 20g protein from chick peas, that will 1. be a lot of chick peas haha and 2. come along with about 60g carb. This is NOT a bad thing, just something to be mindful of! When it comes to eating plant based, there are many ways to create a complete protein source by combining two complimentary plant based sources. For example, peanut butter and whole wheat bread create a complete protein and so does beans and rice. Moral of the story: you need complete protein sources to gain the full benefits of protein.
So what are the benefits of protein anyway? No, it’s not just something bodybuilders eat to get huge. The only way you get huge is by eating in a calorie surplus. Protein actually plays a major role in a number of things regarding our health and fitness goals:
When it comes to nutrition, 90% of people will reach their goals simply by tracking calories and protein (which isn’t hard to do). So how much protein do you need? Easy. For those that are looking to lose fat, set protein at your goal weight. So if you are aiming to weigh 140lbs for example, I’d recommend you shoot for 140g protein per day. If you are looking to maintain, I recommend aiming for .8-1g of protein per lb of bodyweight. Let’s say you are 160lbs and want to maintain that, you should be aiming for 130-160g protein per day. If you are looking to build muscle, I recommend 1-1.2 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight.
If you do not track calories or macros, I’d just aim to make sure you have a decent portion (at least 20g) of protein each time you eat. Even with snacks!
Now, many people have trouble getting protein in especially when they realize they haven’t been getting nearly enough. Here are some options for you:
Lean Meat (chicken, turkey, beef, pork)
Turkey burgers / lean beef burgers
Fish (white fish, salmon, tuna, scallops)
Flavored Tuna Packets/Canned Tuna
Deli Meat (check label- minimal ingredients/preservatives is optimal)
Bean Pasta (Banza & Explore Asian Brand are my favorites)
*Meat alternatives (Beyond Meat, Gardein)
*not a huge fan of soy products but if this is where you stand morally than by all means do what you feel is best.
While ALL macronutrients are important, protein is the one almost ALL people aren’t getting enough of, which is why I place such a heavy emphasis on it. Carbs & fats are abundant and easy to over consume. It’s no wonder so many people struggle with their weight/health.
TLDR: PRIORITIZE GETTING ADEQUATE PROTEIN @ EACH MEAL!