All about: Protein

If you’ve spent anytime on the internet on a fitness page you’ve likely seen EAT YOUR PROTEIN. It’s a hot topic right now and for a good reason! Protein has a vital role in your body and overall health. I love that this topic has gotten so much spotlight recently and people are getting creative with recipes and there are a lot of packaged foods on the market that are working to increase protein amounts.

So why is it so popular now? Let’s dive in shall we!

Protein is one of the three main macronutrients. Macros are simply the largest nutrients our foods are composed of. Think of them as the foundation of a house. Macro’s include – Carbs, Fats and Proteins. People often get confused by them because let’s face it, the fitness industry isn’t the fitness industry unless it’s making you confused and trying to fight your way out of a paper bag. Because everyone has an opinion and there are a lot of myths out there.

Take a deep breath – I promise, they’re not that scary.

Now – i’m not going to go into the structure of proteins and all the science-y stuff behind it. Let’s face it – you don’t actually care. And that’s okay! You don’t have to care to understand how they work in your body and how they can help you. If you happen to care – here’s an article from Precision Nutrition that lays it all out –> Click me

Protein has A LOT of roles in our bodies. Most people like to just highlight the main one we care about – which is that it helps you build strong muscles. But it does SO. MUCH. MORE.

– Helps you feel fuller for longer as it takes your body longer to break down.
– It aids in hormone transportation – meaning it’s like the tires on the car, you’re not gonna get anywhere effectively without them.
– They’re enzymes – enzymes are required in our bodies to make a lot of things happen. Like – muscle contractions, digestion, blood clotting and even energy production.
– And they CAN be used as fuel – emphasis on the CAN here. It’s not efficient for our bodies to use protein as an energy source. It’s a long process and when protein has so many other roles, so it’s not ideal. Thus carbs and fats are necessary. But more on those in another blog.

Now – I wanted to really hone in on the hormone part – because this is what can cause a lot of issues for some folks.
Protein are the building blocks of our bodies. On many levels – like we saw above. But when it comes to proteins they’re most notably (outside of muscle) used for communication in our bodies. At the very base of things, hormones are messengers. Messengers that can get lost, and run out of fuel and not get communicated to. Usually due to protein.

Those most notable hormones that are made of proteins are:

–> Insulin – which signals glucose and sugar uptake into the cell
–> hGH [human growth hormone] – which stimulates growth of soft tissues and bone.
–> Glucagon – which signals the liver to breakdown stored glucose
–> ADH [antidiuretic hormone] – which tells the kidneys to reabsorb water – hello hydration!
–> ACTH [adrenocorticotropic hormone] – which is a key factor in metabolism as it stimulates cortisol’s release

Now, it’s not JUST protein that impacts these. There are a lot of vitamins and minerals that are required to make these things effective. But it’s a huge part of them.

Okay – so we’ve covered what protein is – and what it impacts. But how much do you need?

Well, that’s going to depend. It’s going to depend on a lot of factors like: age, goals, gender, lifestyle and more.

A SUPER general recommendation is about your goal body weight in ounces. So if you’re wanting to weigh 160lbs, regardless of weight loss or weight gain, you’ll want about 160g of protein per day – this can help you decrease or increase your calories.

Do you need to be perfect? No – not if you don’t want to compete in a body building show. If you do – then you definitely need to hire a coach. Not me though – that’s not my cup of tea, but I can point you in the right direction!

You can aim for a range – I usually tell people to aim for about 10-15 grams on either side of the goal number. So a range of about 145 – 175 g per day should do the trick.

But how do you hit this number?!

Well – you plan. You plan out your meals, you build your meals around protein, and you TRY. Like most things, it’s not going to be perfect or pretty at the start. It will take time to learn to go for protein, to build your plate differently. And that’s okay! Just keep doing your best and trying.

Here are some things that I like to do to help myself focus on protein – which has helped me lose about 12lbs since December with very little movement since I keep injuring myself. Yay chronic pain.

–> Throw chicken breast into a crockpot with chicken broth for about 4-6 hours and then shred it so that I can throw it on a big or side salad, use it for dishes like chicken tacos, or throw on top of flat bread pizzas.
–> Meal prep egg bowls – these have about 32 g of protein. I just do 4 eggs, 8 oz egg whites, 1lb ground chicken and then add diced sweet peppers, spinach and a little cheese and spices. This makes 5 days of breakfasts for me.
–> Swap our regular pasta for banza protein pasta (there’s a lot of brands out there)
–> Go for snacks that have higher amounts of protein in them (here’s a past blog I wrote on some of my favorite ones –> CLICK HERE)

There’s a lot of other options – these are just things that work for me!

While that was A LOT of information – It wasn’t scary! See – I got you through it! And I hope now you can really see the vital importance of protein and how you can help yourself boost overall health, aid in weight loss and muscle gain, and just feel better.

If you have more questions about protein – don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m always happy to help