Do you know what protein is? Protein is one of the three macronutrients. The other two are fat and carbohydrate. Consuming enough protein is extremely important, especially for people who are athletic or lead an active lifestyle. Essentially protein is the building blocks of muscle. You need protein to repair muscle, maintain muscle, and grow more muscle. If you want to change your body composition and be lean and muscular you need to eat protein. Protein has other crucial functions in our bodies, but we won’t get too scientific right now.
How much protein should you eat? It depends. It depends on your height, weight, body composition and goals, so everyone’s protein needs will be different. However, no matter what that number is for you, you need to eat it. If you are relatively lean your protein intake should be somewhere around 1g per pound of body weight. You shouldn’t need to eat over 1g/lb BW unless you want to bulk up. Another way to estimate protein intake is to figure out your body weight in kilograms by dividing your body weight by 2.2. If you’re unsure, I can help you figure this out. Here’s an example.
Example: 150lb Female 150lbs/2.2 = 68kg
68kg x 2 = 136g of protein per day
Once you know how much protein you need to eat, you have to figure out how much protein is in the foods you love. Here is a list of some popular foods and their protein content:
Boneless skinless chicken breast (4oz.): 26g
94% Lean ground turkey (4oz): 22g
Filet mignon steak (5oz): 40g
Salmon filet (4oz): 22g
Eggs (3whole eggs): 21g
Liquid egg whites (1/2 cup): 15g
Canned tuna (1 can): 41g
Al Freso chicken sausage (2 sausages): 30g
Natural Peanut butter (2 Tbsp): 8g (PB is mostly fat though, with 16g per 2 Tbsp)
Greek Yogurt (Plain, 8oz): 22g
Whey protein powder (Game Plan, 1 scoop): 24g
Getting in your daily protein can be challenging for some, especially if you’re a bigger person who needs a lot more. If you’ve discovered that you’re not eating as much protein as you should be, I would not advise you to go out and eat alllll the protein the next day. You’d likely feel extremely full and even sick. But I would tell you to work your way up over the course of a few weeks. Protein helps to keep you feeling full and that’s another reason why it’s so important to be eating it with every meal and snack.
Example: Here’s what the 150lb woman in the example above would eat on a daily basis in order to get all of her protein in. She’s very active and does strength and conditioning type workouts 5 days a week.
Breakfast: 2 whole eggs plus 1/2 cup eggs white scrambled (36g protein)
Snack: 5oz Greek yogurt (12g protein)
Lunch: 5oz ground turkey (28g protein)
Post-workout shake: 1 scoop whey protein (24g)
Dinner: 6oz pan sauteed chicken breast (40g protein)
GRAND TOTAL = 140g protein
**A great website for nutritional information is http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition
How do you know what 4, 6, or 8 ounces looks like? The most accurate way to figure this out is to actually weigh your portions before you cook them. That way you’re not guessing. You can buy a food scale for about $20. Weighing protein doesn’t mean you have to do it forever, but it’s a great way to learn about portioning. After you do it for a while eyeballing your portions becomes easy. Use it as a learning tool, but don’t be a slave to your food scale.
If weighing and measuring isn’t your thing there are some general guidelines for protein portions. A decent serving for a female is about the size and thickness of her palm, or a palm and a half she’s active or an athlete. For men a serving size is about the size and thickness of two palms. Since people are all shapes and sizes, it’s sometimes difficult to accurately prescribe based on hand size.
When I help people with their nutrition the number one thing I encounter is people not eating enough protein. If your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, put on weight, lean out, get stronger, get toned, look better naked, recover better, get huge, make gainzzz…(the list could go on), you MUST eat enough protein.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
See you around the gym,
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This information is for educational purposes and not meant to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.