One of the biggest and most important tips I tell my clients and anyone who wants to lose weight is to track and increase their protein amounts each day. Protein is so important for weight loss and sustaining a healthy body weight because it is imperative for building muscle mass, dropping fat, and it’s very unlikely to ever be stored as fat! It helps keep us full (it’s satiating), it stabilizes blood sugar, and more. It’s imperative for healthy bones, joints, hair, skin, nails, etc.! Most Americans eat way too many carbs and fats each day and not enough protein and cruciferous vegetables. In this blog I am going to talk more deeply about protein and how you can sneak more into your day!
How much protein do you need? The MINIMUM is around 1 gram per kilogram of body mass. You can type in google your bodyweight converted to kilograms to get your MINIMUM number – but remember, more is actually better! If you are eating a little bit closer to your bodyweight each day then you are going to end up eating fewer carbs and fats, even while eating the same amount of calories. This is important because as I stated earlier you are very unlikely to store protein as fat – it is not what the body wants to do. Protein is going to help keep you full and so it’s unlikely that you will overeat it because the body will fill up faster, first. Whereas processed carbs and fats are less likely to fill you up, therefore more likely to be overeaten. The more active you are the more protein you need. Someone who works out regularly and has more muscle mass will need more protein than a sedentary person who does not workout. However, everyone should be mindful of how much protein they are eating each day and strive to eat a more balanced diet of proteins, carbs and fats.
HOW TO SNEAK PROTEIN IN
I like to incorporate 1-2 scoops of a protein powder each day. I mix up plant proteins and whey isolate proteins, and each serving is 20-25 grams of protein! Sometimes I will do just a half serving as a snack if I don’t want or need a full serving. I track protein as I go to make sure I am on track and gettin enough. It’s one of the main macros that I actually track REGULARLY…I do actually keep track of carbs too because I find if I get too behind in my carbs I will get super hungry at dinner and after dinner…it helps me to eat more balanced throughout the day.
I will make protein waffles for breakfast on occasion which are made with eggs, oats and protein powder (and have 25 ish grams protein per waffle). I also make oatmeal sometimes in the morning and add a scoop of vanilla protein powder, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds and a little nut butter. In fact, I like to even sneak protein powder in my baked sweet potatoes or baked goods on occasion, too! I keep all different flavors of protein powder on hand.
Chia seeds, ground flaxseeds and nut butter all have protein as well, so this really gets my breakfast protein numbers up! I also make power balls that are made with old fashioned oats, almond butter and protein powder – so they have around 4 grams of protein per ball. Oats are actually a good way to add in some extra protein and fiber, too, as 1 serving of old fashioned Bob’s red mill oatmeal has 6 grams of protein! Of course you can’t just eat the oatmeal by itself or you will be starving within 60 minutes! Add some protein and healthy fat to make a more balanced meal.
I eat 2 servings of meat per day, usually 3-4 oz servings. Just one 3.5 ounce serving of chicken breast has about 30 grams of protein! My typical lunch meat is chicken breast, and dinner is often chicken or lean grass-fed beef or ground turkey of some sort. People are misled when they think they have to eat gobs of meat in order to get protein in, when in reality just a little goes a long way. Same goes for fish – a serving of fish is usually 20-30 grams of protein. We eat salmon 1-2x per week at our house, usually the wild caught kind. If you don’t eat meat that is OK – you can always do tofu and include black beans, lentils or other beans and quinoa to your meals! Chickpeas are also a good source of protein.
Eggs for breakfast is a way to get some protein in for the morning, You could do 2 or 3 whole eggs, or even scramble some eggs with egg whites to keep protein levels high and moderate fat levels. I also love Ezekiel bread on occasion which has around 4 grams of protein per slice! If I don’t eat any eggs at breakfast sometimes I make a little sunny side up egg as a snack with a slice of gluten free toast or 1/2 of an English muffin (I like gluten free or Ezekiel cinnamon raisin). It’s delicious. I don’t do bacon often at all or sausages or even turkey or chicken sausage. I avoid highly processed meat most of the time. We might do bacon once a month at our house, but it’s not something I eat regularly. I prefer more lean proteins so we honestly don’t do much pork at all and I prefer 90/10 grass-fed beef when we eat beef.
If you tolerate dairy you could snack on Greek yogurt or just regular plain yogurt or cottage cheese. Those are good sources of protein. Just don’t eat the yogurt that has a lot of added sugars and fake ingredients. I don’t do a ton of dairy but I like to throw a little yogurt on my oatmeal in the morning or my baked oatmeal and it’s delicious. I also like to snack on sardines on occasion as these are excellent sources of omega-3 fats and also a good source of protein. If you hate sardines you don’t have to eat them though! You could get some sustainable tuna and salmon (canned) and whip up a healthy tuna/salmon salad and snack on that if you get a sudden urge to eat! Try to avoid snacking on chips or things that are empty calories.
A typical day of eating for me:
430/5 AM: I wake up and have warm lemon water with cayenne pepper and a splash of apple cider vinegar. I wait an hour to 90 mins before I have coffee. I also drink an extra couple of glasses of water with my warm lemon water, so that I am hydrated first thing in the morning.
Around 630-7 AM: I have breakfast – usually 1/2 cup oatmeal with protein powder, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, cinnamon, a touch of peanut butter, walnuts and berries and a dollop of yogurt. Or I have my baked protein oatmeal with organic yogurt; or 2 eggs and Ezekiel toast and fruit.
Around 930/10 AM: My snack is a scoop of protein powder with water and creatine; 1/2 English muffin with nut butter and a touch of preserves, sometimes a few apple slices as well or a whole banana if I am about to do strength work.
1130/12 pm: Post workout or for lunch I do shredded chicken usually with steamed broccoli and mashed up sweet potatoes or a piece of gluten free toast. Basically I make sure I have a protein, vegetable and around 30 grams of carbs. I may have a power ball (my homemade power balls) with lunch too if I didn’t already have one yet.
2 PM: My next snack is often organic fuji apple slices or pink lady apple slices, another piece of toast with either organic cream cheese or a little bit of nut butter and pink salt. Sometimes a few raw walnuts or even another bite of shredded chicken (I try to keep cooked protein on hand at all times). I may even have 1/2 of a No Cow bar if we have some – they are one of my fav protein bars. I try to keep these on hand all the time, but I don’t eat one every day because that would get expensive. I let my husband bring them to work since he’s not at home with access to the kitchen all the time. I probably eat 2-4 of these bars per week just depending on if we are traveling or not and my access to clean food!
530/6 pm: Dinner could be a Romaine wrapped grass-fed beef burger with a side Greek salad and roasted sweet potato cubes or even homemade gluten free salmon cakes with rice or quinoa and a veggie of some sort (usually it’s a big salad or roasted brussels or cauliflower). This week we had ground turkey/sausage spaghetti with a mix of gluten free rice noodles and spaghetti squash and a side Greek salad! I love having a hearty, delicious dinner that’s not too heavy but at the same time feels like a little indulgence.