I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Labor Day weekend 😊
At this point, you should have calculated how many calories you should be eating. Did you do it? Did you do both methods I recommended? How much of a difference was there? Was there greater than 500 calories of a difference? If so, then sign up for a consultation call.
I know what you’re thinking. There’s no way I should be eating that much? You’re likely thinking I’m crazy and may not know what I’m talking about. You’ve survived this long on 1400 calories, and that one time you went on vacation where you ate a ton, you gained weight. So there’s no way you can go allllllll the way up to 2400.
Trust me… I get this all the time! This is why you should consider hiring a nutrition coach (like me) who does this for you and guides (or coaches, one would say) you along the way!
Let me just reiterate my last point. If you are already under-eating and have chronically under-eaten most of your life (most people have), then you can’t be as successful in a diet phase as if you would eating the right amount of food. We don’t realize what food does to our body and our hormones and metabolism. If you chronically under-eat, then you are at risk of doing some everlasting damage to your body. I recently read an article linking a lot of current conditions/ailments in today’s world to under-eating and it was fascinating! If you’re a female and severely under-eating, you’re at risk for a lot of hormonal damage, organ damage (thyroid, liver, GI distress), infertility, and even cancers (under-eating = stress = inflammation à increased risk of cancer). If you’re a male, you’re at risk for a lot of the same problems. Your testosterone levels are at the most risk. If you’re a healthy male and have NO sex drive (this even applies to you ladies out there too!!) this is a sign your hormone levels are suboptimal most likely due to stress and/or under-eating.
Okay, off my soap box! I just want everyone to have ALL the information out there 😊
Now onto the next part. Let’s go back to the nutrition pyramid. We’ve covered calories. Only once this is established is when we can move up the pyramid to macronutrients!
There are three macronutrients (or macros): proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. We’ll go over protein today and the other two during the next two blogs and roughly about how much you should eat. Protein and fats are our two essential macronutrients, meaning essential for survival. Carbohydrates are technically not essential for surviving but they are 100% essential for thriving.
Protein: One of our essential macronutrients. We need protein, that’s just it. Protein is essential for muscle protein synthesis, which most people desire, but you don’t realize how many bodily functions/processes rely on protein. Almost every component in the human body is made up of protein (skin, hair, nails, organs, saliva, immune system, blood, etc.). We have structures in every cell of our body that takes our DNA and our environment and uses that “code” to synthesize and make protein which become organs and components that make us human. Interestingly enough, when our cells have “garbage,” certain structures engulf the “garbage” and break it down into single amino acids (building blocks of protein) and recycle it back to the cell to make new functional proteins. There is an argument that adults don’t need much protein, only babies and adolescents still in their growing years. This couldn’t be more wrong. Adult bodies synthesize proteins every second of every day because we are constantly changing our environments. We’re eating and breaking down food. We’re using enzymes and proteins in our bodies constantly. We’re exposed to new situations and environments that require newly made proteins. Studies also demonstrate that low protein intake increases your risk for developing osteoporosis. Our bodies also don’t store protein like it does with fats and carbohydrates so any unused protein is being filtered out in our pee. As such, we need to constantly replenish our bodies with protein throughout the day. Protein is great for our GI system too because it promotes motility (movement of stuff). So if you’re in GI distress, protein is a great option for you. It also doesn’t spike your blood sugar and therefore won’t produce crazy cravings. It is the most satiating nutrient as well and requires the most energy to break down. I know a lot of people who could eat a dozen hot Krispy Kreme donuts (including myself of course) but definitely couldn’t eat a dozen hot chicken breasts. Whenever I have a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, I’m hungry 2 hours later because of the spike in insulin and subsequent sugar crash (hello cravings). However, when I have a huge protein-filled meal which is at most 8oz protein, I am full for hours. If you’re starving 1-2 hours after you eat, add a full serving of protein in that meal and pay attention to how much longer you stay full. This is because protein turns off your hunger hormone (grehlin) and turns on your satiety hormone (leptin), whereas carbs and fats are less likely to do this. Protein also boosts your metabolism (don’t we all want that???). Protein helps you repair damage to your body. If you are injured or recovering from surgery, a high protein intake will help you recover faster. My mom is a perfect example of this. In January, she had a pretty intense surgery that the doctors predicted a 6-month recovery period. Guess when my mom was cleared to get back to her CrossFitting glory…4 months! She cut her recovery 33%!!!
SO how much protein should you eat? This is highly debated. I recommend and encourage 1g protein/lb lean body mass. In layman terms, eat your bodyweight in grams of protein. I’m 150lbs, so I eat 150g protein/day. If you are hoping to lose >20 lbs, you want to eat your target weight in grams of protein. If you’re 170lbs but want to get down to 140, then eat 140g protein/day. IF you are about to start a cut or go into a diet phase, you can bring that protein intake up as much as 1.2-1.5g/lb LBM. Why? Because protein burns more fuel to digest and keeps you full longer. When you’re in a deficit, we want to avoid hunger and cravings as much as possible to keep you compliant. Jumping that protein amount up will help tremendously.
Will it hurt your kidneys? NO! Not if you have healthy kidneys. The belief in protein damaging kidneys came from some studies that was looking at protein intake in people with pre-existing kidney disease. IF you do have a pre-existing kidney disease, you likely can’t tolerate this protein amount. However, if you do not have a pre-existing kidney disease, you are fine!
What protein can you eat?
Whew the list is endless. My rule of thumb is any lean protein source. Think high quality and definitely lean and not full of fat. Grass-fed and organic is THE way to go. You can trust that the source is clean and not full of steroids and toxins and also that the animal was raised humanely. Fun fact: steroids and toxins are stored in an animal’s fat, which is why we aim to go lean when we can.
Examples of lean proteins: chicken (breast, thigh, etc.), beef and steak (no less than 90/10 lean), lamb, venison, pork, turkey, bison, seafood (wild caught fish and shell-fish, aim for low mercury containing fishes – salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring)
Examples of other animal proteins (just not as lean): sausage, bacon, jerky, deli meat
Examples of vegetarian proteins: eggs, legumes, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, dairy (Greek yogurt)
Try to avoid getting the majority of your protein in liquid form such as a protein shake. You get the full benefits of protein by eating as close to the source as possible. Meat sources also have high amounts of micronutrients that are really good for you that you end up negating if you go protein shake after protein shake.
I have roughly 4 meals/day with 30g protein plus a post-workout protein/carb shake. 4*30 + 25 = 145g and with some of the other foods I eat in these meals, my protein intake is always at 150g!
If you aren’t used to eating protein—don’t worry, most aren’t—then start by just adding protein to every meal of your day. If you have oatmeal for breakfast, go ahead and add a couple eggs. If you have a salad for lunch, throw some beef tips or grilled chicken on there. If you love snacks, eat turkey/ham avocado/veggie rollups. Also don’t be afraid to change up your routine and meals. Breakfast doesn’t have to be eggs and oatmeal. I have a yummy stew for breakfast sometimes because I can pack it with all the vegetables, healthy fats, and protein.
Goal this week: every other day add a full serving (25g-30g) of protein to a meal! By next Wednesday when my next post comes out, you should be close to your protein goal!
If you have 100g protein to go before you’re at your target protein amount, the same applies as with last week. Don’t add 100g protein in the span of a week because you will feel miserable and will honestly hate protein and we don’t want that! Reach out to me for a free consultation or hire me as your nutrition coach!