Let's Talk Protein

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Welcome back! Today we’re talking #protein. You know, the most popular topic in nutrition and fitness (next to avocados). If I made a graph to represent how many people care about protein now to how many people cared 10 years ago, it’d probably look something like this:

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So, with fads come false information, and it’s getting trickier to figure out what is legit and what is nonsense. Here are a few facts that might help clear things up, and hopefully make it easier for those interested to pay more attention to their intake.

How much protein should you get?

According to dietitians, the recommended daily intake for protein should range between .8 and 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. (Thanks for making us do math, dietitians and whoever decided we should abandon the metric system!) 1 lb = 0.454 kg. So say that you are a 140 lb person- that’s 63.5 kg. Your recommended protein intake is around 50 to 77 grams.


“But what does this actually look like?” you say?

Let's say you eat 5 times a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two small snacks. You might shoot for about 15-20 grams of protein at each meal, and maybe 5-20 grams in a snack.

A few snack ideas within the target protein range:

  • hard -boilded egg: 6 g

  • 1 cup greek yogurt: 20 g

  • Handful of nuts: 6 g

  • Light string cheese: 6 g

  • Protein bar: 14-25g

  • Protein shake: 20-30 g

A few ideas to include in your meal:

  • One serving of oatmeal: 5g

  • One serving of rice: 4g or quinoa: 5g

  • a serving of lean meat or fish: 15-30g

  • One serving of beans: 5-8 g


Does my exercise routine matter when accounting for protein?

Yes! While the general recommendation sticks, you’ll want to be on the higher side of protein if you are strength training or trying to lose fat while resistance training. On the flip side, those cario enthusiasts out there (long distance runners and bikers) might feel better with a slightly lower protein goal, as they aren’t necessarily trying to grow their muscles.


Should I care more about protein than I do?

That depends. Remember that graph earlier? The level of attention to protein intake has skyrocketed lately, but I bet you or your parents and their parents never lost a moment of sleep thinking about protein, and they turned out just fine. If you are interested in nutrition or have specific fitness goals, it would behoove you to consider this macro nutrient a bit more.

Can you estimate about how much protein you get in a day? If you can and you’re in the comfortable range, then keep doing what you’re doing. If you know you’re not getting enough protein, make an effort to include more protein-dense options for the next couple weeks and see how you feel. If you have no idea, maybe pay attention for a few weeks with a food journal and see where you’re at!

Protein bars, shakes, and supplements

Tread carefully here, folks. Protein powder and supplements are not regulated by the FDA to ensure the ingredients are safe and free of contaminants. Now, competition drives quality and you can find tons of brands that promise clean ingredients and minimal additives, and those are the products you should look for. As a rule of thumb when buying powders and bars, glance at the sugar content and the ingredient list. I like to keep sugar under 13g for protein bars, only because the natural bars tend to have more natural sugar. If you look at the ingredient list and see more than 10 listed, look more closely. Artificial sweeteners are common, and while some are better than others, most can cause gas and digestive issues, especially in large quantities. AKA, if you see a bunch of words that end in “-ose,” steer clear!

Also, the source of protein is important too- I won’t go into too much detail here, but the general rule of thumb is that really cheap products are lower quality. This isn’t to say you should only buy the most expensive brands, but it’s my opinion that not all protein is created equally, and the extra crap in lower-quality protein sources should be avoided. A few brands I love are Quest, Oatmega, VegaOne, Optimum Nutrition, and Epic. A few I try to avoid are ThinkThin (sugar alcohols), Cliff and Cliff Builder (holy sugar), and the surprisingly cheap powders on the sale shelf at Target and Marshall's.

I hope this cleared up a few questions you had. As a last note, the popularity of protein is largely due to a wider understanding that protein can help people lose weight. This is sort of true, weight loss is pretty much determined by creating a calorie deficit. Protein is great because it can help curb appetite by regulating insulin and Ghibelline-producing hormones, but simply adding a few protein shakes and chicken breasts to your diet won’t cut it. In my skeptical view, I also think people who start paying more attention to protein also pay more attention to calorie intake in general, which is important in weight loss. Like everything, there’s a balance.

Have any favorite snack or meal ideas to share? Let us know in the comments!!

Trying to Lose Weight? Then Get Off the Treadmill and Pick Up Some Dumbbells.

Women are notorious for spending hours doing cardio to shed extra pounds.  Thinking that if only I walk or run a little further I will burn more calories and lose this damn weight.  You couldn't be more wrong.  Think about it, we have all seen a marathon or a 1/2 marathon and/or known someone training for one that we thought, really, how can "they" be doing that.  They are overweight and simply do not look "fit enough" to be able to complete the task.  This is not to discredit the work that these people are doing.  More power to them.  However, case in point, lots of cardio is not a secret weight loss pill.   

Ok, if that image is not enough to convince you here are a few more reasons.

1.  Muscle burns more calories than fat.  Every 1 lb of muscle will burn approximately 35-50 more calories per day then a lb of fat.  So, think about it.  If you add 5 lbs of muscle you could be burning an extra 250 calories everyday without doing anything.  (well you have to lift weights a few times each week).  This could amount to 91, 250 calories per year.  HOLY SHIT that is a lot of room for extra glass of wine or a brownie (HA HA, just kidding).  

2. As women age, we lose muscle mass naturally.  Every decade starting at age 30 women will begin losing muscle mass. In fact, up to 3-5% each decade.  However, lifting weights even 2x per week for 20-30 minutes can reduce this from happening.  So, say you lose 5 lbs of muscle between age 30-40 in muscle.  Now, even though you might be doing cardio and eating healthy all of the sudden you are gaining weight. Remember Reason #1?   So, now instead of burning that extra 250 calories you are burning 250 calories less.  Now you are losing 91,250 calories per year and at 3500 calories for 1 lb of weight gain that is a potential gain of 26 lbs.  OUCH no wonder women gain weight as they age.  

3.  But hold on it gets worse. Women can lose up to 20% of bone density in the 5-7 years after menopause.  I am not going to bother with the math here.  You get the picture.  

Ok, if that math lesson doesn't convince you think about all the other benefits like looking stronger, feeling more confident, having an easier time carrying the groceries into the house, getting up and down off the floor is easier, the list goes on and on.  

You can start a strength training program without much or any equipment.  Plug in a few squats, lunges, pushups, and planks and you will be on your way to not only a stronger and leaner body but also a stronger and improved mental state.  Reach out to me or watch this blog for more posts about how to incorporate strength training into your routine.  


A New Year's Resolution Shouldn't Be About Losing Weight

As many of us (me included) have over-indulged, lacked sleep and been neglectful to our bodies over the holidays it is easy to beat yourself up, criticize yourself, and become frustrated.  Now, as you approach the new year you are resolving to lose weight and get in shape.  You will run out and buy the latest workout gear, start a gluten-free, sugar-free diet, or whatever the latest diet craze is and in one month you will quit.  Sound familiar?  

The problem with this type of resolution is that it is often based on punishment and obligation.  We tell ourselves we must lose weight and if we do not we are failures.  PHEW, that is a lot of pressure and frankly sounds really awful.   

What if this year instead of resolving to lose weight you resolve to be kinder to your mind and body?  What if you set a goal not to lose weight but to treat yourself better?  

Here are some examples of how this might make a difference.  If your goal is to lose weight you might decide to exercise because it is necessary to be successful, you might eat more vegetables because they are low in calories and you have to, you might vow not to eat a cookie ever again and then when you do you will tell yourself you are weak, a failure, and then eat 10.  Sound familiar?

What if instead you resolve to be kinder to your mind and body?  How might things be different?  You might choose to exercise not out of obligation but because it is a small amount of time you get to take each day for yourself.  You might begin to choose vegetables that you enjoy and know will nourish your body.  You might still eat a cookie here or there but will remind yourself that you are human and humans are imperfect.  You would likely forgive yourself, and stop after one or two.  

Which resolution sounds better to you?  

So, if your goal is to lose weight consider your headspace.  If you are looking at this an obligation, something you HAVE to do you will likely fail.  However, if you think of it as something you are choosing to work on to be a better version of yourself you will likely be successful.  Life is to short to be hard on ourselves.  Love yourself where you are and always work to be better not because you have to but because you want to!!  

Happy New Years Everyone.  You are Awesome just the way you are.