Protein cookies, protein pancakes, protein donuts, protein shakes, protein bars- there’s pretty much a protein version of everything! But, why is the fitness industry and health and wellness individuals seemingly obsessed with protein- and should you be, too?
If there’s a macronutrient to be obsessing over, it’s definitely protein. Your hair and skin are comprised mainly of protein, for starters! It doesn’t matter what diet you do, if you wanna get in shape, you’re gonna need LOTS of protein. Why? Well...
Reduces hunger and appetite
Increase lean muscle mass and strength
Prevent catabolic muscle loss
It’s good for your bones
Keeps cravings at bay
Promote fat burning
Lower blood pressure
Maintain weight loss
Helps your body repair itself
...But just how much protein is “a lot”? Around .85-1g of protein per pound you weigh. Everybody’s different, of course, and your goals will affect your recommended intake. But that’s a great place to start! I know, I know- that’s a lot of protein. Consuming that much can seem daunting at first, and even unattainable- particularly if you haven’t already been consuming nearly enough. Don’t worry, though- there’s a few ways to maximize your protein intake.
First and foremost, you should shoot for at least 20-30 grams of lean protein with every meal. Can I eat more than that, you ask? Certainly! The whole debate regarding the body’s ability to absorb no more than 30 grams in one sitting has been debunked countless times. It’s not necessarily about your protein intake per meal (although again, setting goals for each meal will help you meat your recommended intake)- it’s about your daily intake goal. Some good primary sources of lean protein include...
Top sirloin steak
Lean ground beef, chicken, and turkey
...That’s not to say these are the only foods that contain protein- rather, these pack a lot of protein punch and can help you meet your daily intake goal more quickly.
However, sometimes it can be difficult and unrealistic to consume ALL your protein from solid food alone. If you have a busy schedule, you aren’t home a lot, or you simply don’t have time to sit down and eat several meals, you may need to utilize a protein supplement. The most common protein supplement is protein powder, or, protein shakes. Most of these contain 20-25 grand of protein per serving! Now, there’s a lot of different kinds of protein powders to choose from- so how do you know which one is best? Here’s a quick rundown of your options...
Whey concentrate- common, inexpensive, can be slightly more difficult to digest, can cause minor bloating
Casein protein- digests slowly over 5-7 hours, high glutamine content (good), ideal to consume before bed or to stay full during the day
Hydrolysate protein- most expensive, highest quality, highest absorption rate, easier on the digestive system
Soy protein- good for vegetarians, loaded with glutamine, arginine, and BCAA’s, supports healthy cholesterol profile
Milk protein isolates- contains casein and whey, lots of amino acids, not a preferred choice
Egg albumin- also called egg whites, great amino acid profile, typically bought in container or or carton and cooked
...There’s options for every body and every budget, making meeting your protein intake goal entirely attainable!
Now, if you’re looking for a little bit of an extra edge, there are products like the ones discussed at the beginning of this blog post, like protein bars and breads and sweet treats. These are all wonderful ways to sneak in a few extra grams, but be wary- just because it says “protein” on the package doesn’t mean that a.) it actually contains a significant amount, and b.) that it isn’t ALSO chock full of sweeteners and extra nonsense.
So, if you’re not already doing this whole, “high protein” thing, you probably should be. It’s totally worth obsessing over.