Protein is one of the three macronutrients, and it is an essential nutrient, meaning we cannot survive without the consumption of it on a daily basis for an extended period of time.
Protein is usually the first macronutrients that we look at with clients during our nutrition coaching, and for good reason…
What does protein do in the body?
Protein helps make many hormones. This includes hormones that manage appetite, balance blood sugar, and support feeling happy and relaxed.
Protein supports the immune system. Without enough protein, we easily become sick and frail and recover slower.
Protein improves body composition. It helps shed fat, gain or maintain muscle mass, and stay lean for life.
Protein is physically satisfying. You’ll feel fuller, longer. This is important if you’re trying to eat less in order to lose fat. Eating more protein means feeling more satisfied with meals, and less hungry between meals.
Protein helps build and repair almost every tissue in the body — muscles, connective tissues (such as tendons and ligaments), and bones.
More protein means better recovery, more muscle, less fat, and a stronger, healthier body.
In order to develop muscle tissue, we need to be consuming adequate protein. These are the building blocks of muscle, and if you’re someone that works out often and trains hard, you are probably aiming for some sort of body composition goals. So if you’re looking to change your physique or even improve performance, protein is basically a requirement.
How much protein do we need?
A big topic of discussion is always how much protein does one need? Well, this is going to depend on goals, lifestyle, training, etc. Here’s what we do know:
The RDI of 0.8-1.0 grams/kg body weight is more so to prevent catabolism (the breakdown of tissue) in a more sedentary individual.
For optimising longevity in the general population, evidence indicates a range of 1.2-1.6 grams per kg of bodyweight.
For active individuals and those looking to optimise training adaptations (aka – building lean muscle, seeing ‘tone and definition’, etc.), a minimum of 1.6-2.2 grams per kg of bodyweight has been shown in studies to provide optimal amounts.
No matter what your goals are, having a solid protein intake is one of the most important practices you can do for your overall health, fitness, and performance.
So, to get the benefits of protein…
Step 1: Know your protein sources
Here’s what we recommend:
Lean meats such as beef, pork tenderloin, and wild game.
Poultry such as chicken, turkey, and duck.
Fish And seafood such as shrimp, tuna, salmon and scallops.
Eggs and egg whites.
Cottage Cheese or strained plain Greek yoghurt.
Protein powder such as whey, casein, vegetarian blends, etc.
Plant based protein sources such as legumes, beans
Tempeh and tofu.
Of course, other foods have some protein in them… it’s just that the foods above are the high-protein superstars!
Step 2: Eat protein with every meal today
Next, all you have to do is pick one protein from the above list and add it to every meal you eat today. In other words, every meal must contain at least one of the above selections. Mix and match however you want. Just stick to this list.
In fact, sometimes we can make initial progress by just tracking total calories and protein, while being more flexible with fats and carbs. If you struggle with getting your protein in, try starting all your meals out by having 1-2 palm sized-portions. This helps ensure you’re working towards your goals.
Have fun with the possibilities!
(Eggs for dinner? Beans at breakfast? Smoked salmon topped with cottage cheese? Why the heck not?! Get your protein in and start reaping the benefits of those micronutrients!)
Need a little extra support?
We have an amazing coach and community in our Nutrition programmeme to help you through this!