Tag Archives: fitness nutrition

Protein: How Much and Why?

fish-meat-dairy-nuts-etc-350

Protein.

You need it.  And maybe more than you’re eating now.

If you’re having a strong reaction to reading that, I get it.  But this is an important thing to get right nutritionally.

Food is made up of 3 macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

All foods have some combination of the big 3.  If we purposely avoid one of the macronutrients, and it turns out that your body needs more of that particular macronutrient than you think, there will be problems.

Arguing with that is like saying gravity is a theory and you’re not convinced. 

And there you sit.  Not floating.  (Ok, I’m assuming you’re not floating.  You could be in a hot-air balloon. Gravity is still working, though.)

That said, there seems to be a fear of protein out there lately. Or at least some misconceptions.

I think that’s a backlash to the high protein diets that were popular a few years ago.

The medical profession started throwing up red flags – rightfully so.  I hope they would do that anytime a popular “named” diet is unbalanced.

I’m not getting into food preferences because I strongly believe food preferences need to be personal.  Sustainability is about flexibility.  What I am saying – what I’m not flexible about – is that the human body needs protein.  I’ll explain why.

Humans run on calories.  And we need them from proteins, carbs, and fats in some combination for optimal recovery, energy, hormone health, and mood regulation.

People need micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) from those foods for optimal functioning of – well – everything inside our bodies that has a function.

Protein and the Immune System

Speaking from experience, teachers are on the front lines of the cold and flu season every year.

sick teacher

After I started lifting, I noticed that I didn’t get sick as often as I used to.

Asked around at the gym and the guys said they didn’t catch many colds.

Why?

One reason may be dietary.  Lifters usually make sure they are getting enough protein.

Dietary protein bolsters the immune system.

Did a little research to find out why.

Can’t lie – I’m not a biochemistry major so most of what I found was written in academic language that was a little dense.

I did find several studies that started with a sentence that said something like…

 “We’ve known for a long time that protein malnutrition increases the likelihood of infectious diseases”.

 ~ Dietary protein intake and human health

But why??

Pulled out a nutrition textbook and the explanation there was about the immune response.  Antibodies are blood proteins.  They specifically described how antibodies attack a cold virus.

Protein malnutrition compromises the immune system.  Lifters tend to consume a lot of protein to help us recover from our lifts.  (There are lifters who live full-time in a caloric deficit and they tend to catch colds more often.  That just makes sense.  Fat-loss phases are meant to be temporary because they are hard on the body and the immune system cannot keep up.)

How Much Protein Do You Need?

If you are completely sedentary, the recommendation is 0.8 g per kg of body weight.  That’s about 0.4 g of protein per pound.   So, a 150-pound person who is completely sedentary will need about 60 grams of protein.  If that 150-pound person was maintaining their weight consuming 1800 calories a day, those 60 grams of protein would only be 13% of their total calories!

 

Most people who don’t try to eliminate protein sources from their food choices probably eat enough without trying. 

  • 2 large eggs = 12 grams of protein
  • The peanut butter on two slices of toast = 7 grams of protein
  • Fast food chicken sandwich = 36 grams of protein
  • One slice of pepperoni pizza = 16 grams of protein
  • Added up = 71 grams of protein.  And carbs and fats.  Most foods have all three.

(This isn’t a suggested food list, but just examples for a frame of reference.  These are estimates. The typical American diet, even in a high school cafeteria, probably has enough protein for the completely sedentary human.)

However, if you get up and go to work or school,  walk a bit, do chores around the house, go to the gym a couple times a week – you need more.

 

If you’re not exercising, but aren’t completely sedentary, I’d suggest 0.6 grams times your body weight. 

That same 150-pound person would want 90 grams, or only 20% of intake from protein. 

Some will argue, cite sources, get all upset with me – which is fine.  Really, it’s OK.  What you eat is your choice.  If I’m not your coach, your personal protein philosophy is none of my business. 

But…

  • if your appetite is out-of-control
  • if you get hurt frequently
  • have issues with recovery from your workouts
  • catch every bug that comes floating by

…I’d encourage you to reflect on whether your body-chemistry is actually on the same page as your opinions about how much protein you need.  Just sayin’.

 dumbells

If you lift or exercise regularly with a favorite activity, go for something in the range of 0.8 g to 1.2 g per pound of body weight.

If you’re an overweight lifter, that might be a lot.  In that case, estimate your lean body mass and then multiply that by 0.8 to 1.2 per pound of lean body mass.

For example, when my body fat was estimated to be 40%,  that meant my lean mass was 60%.  I would take my scale weight times 0.6 to estimate my lean body mass in pounds,  then take that number times 0.8 for a minimum protein intake.  Use 1.2 for a maximum protein intake.

Personally, I like 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of actual body weight because it’s easy.  I train hard, so I don’t feel it’s necessary to worry about whether I’m getting a little too much protein by not calculating my lean mass weight.

Regardless of math and philosophy, if you’re not giving your body the amount of protein it needs, the reality of that will present itself if you start to feel beat up by your workouts. 

If you’re not recovering, look at that protein intake.  That might not be the reason, but it’s a variable that needs to be considered.

A Tiny Bit on Protein and Fat-Loss

If you are in a fat-loss phase, those calories from protein are helpful. 

Protein helps regulate hunger.  After eating protein, you may feel fuller longer, which is nice when you’re living in a caloric deficit.

When you exercise, you want to burn fat, right?  

If there is sufficient protein in your diet, the body is more likely to use stored fat as an energy source. 

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “muscle-sparing”, that’s what they mean.  When protein intake is high, the body won’t metabolize muscle for energy instead of fat.

Balance First

I know there are different opinions on the issue of protein intake.  However, the majority of adults are busy, don’t have time to research it, and rely on trusted resources.  I hope I’m a trusted resource, and I take that responsibility seriously.

I’m all about balance and am prone to be suspicious of any source telling me to eliminate a macronutrient for an otherwise healthy human’s nutrition.

Coming soon!  

I’ll put together a post about alternative protein sources for people who do not want to eat meat.  There are a lot more options out there than there were just a few years ago. 

I need a little time to research because I’m mostly plant-based eater who gets most of my protein from poultry and animals with hooves.  The animals ate plants – but I’m pretty sure that’s not what you meant, right?  😉 

 

Need more?  You don’t have to figure it out on your own.
For more information…

I’d like to invite you to join my Facebook group that’s focused on nutrition and mindset challenges.  Click here to join>>>

My book about the challenges of reversing your health with busy-adult life is available now.  Click here to find out more>>>

If you would like to learn more about coaching programs, click here>>>

1 Comment

Filed under Nutrition

Food Prep Tips

Instead of just sharing my own experiences on this topic, I asked people on my Facebook page for any tips they had for food prep. Not as many as I expected. There were a couple tips and a question. I’ll share what I do, share their tips, and answer the question.

When To Do Food Prep?

I prep on the weekends for the whole week. I grill chicken, brown ground turkey, cook sweet potatoes, cook rice, and sometimes I make a spaghetti squash. I even scramble eggs. Not a complete list of everything I eat. Just the food that needs to be cooked for my meals away from home. Everything else is raw. And I cook dinner each evening.

Michelle said “I prep two days a week, usually a Sunday and Wednesday. I bake all my protein at the same time as well my potatoes. I spend time cutting up the veggies/fruit too. Measure it out and cut them up during food prep day to save time. Tupperware and glassware are your best friends. I hate to microwave in plastic so I use glass for my proteins as much as I can. It might take you an hour or two in the beginning to prep it all but you have to set aside the time to do it. If you only have 15 minutes to prep food then you won’t get it done. SET ASIDE THE TIME.”

Random Breakfast Tips

  • There is no rule that says you have to eat certain foods for breakfast. If you skip it because you don’t have time, make a little extra for dinner and eat left overs for breakfast.
  • Scramble up a few eggs while you are making dinner and keep them in the refrigerator overnight. They can be heated in the microwave in the morning.
  • Before bed, pour a little hot water on slow-cooking oatmeal, toss in a few berries and cinnamon, then seal it and put in the refrigerator. It will soften overnight and will heat up quick in the morning.

Packing Meals

I used to measure and pack each meal or parts of meals in small containers. Looked like this when I was done:
Food Prep Done! (For a few days anyway.)I mixed everything together in one container for that meal. To make it really easy for prep, I’d eat the same thing. Here were my lunches for a week: chicken breast, frozen asparagus stir fry veggies, and a little organic Annie’s Roasted Red Pepper dressing. Sometimes, I’d add a little rice. I’d take them all to work and just dump it out on a paper plate and heat them in the small microwave oven I have in my classroom.
Last summer, after over two years of this routine, I had a brainstorm. I replaced the very tiny refrigerator in my classroom with a slightly larger compact refrigerator. I bought a second digital scale, too. I can now bring larger containers with my food to school and measure it out as I need it. I also realized that I don’t really need to measure the eggs. If I scramble what I want to eat over the 5 days, it doesn’t really matter how much I eat on any one day, just that I eat all of them during the week. At the end of the week, the average per day will be correct.

On days I don’t work, I have to pack and carry my meals with me when I leave the house for the day. That’s probably how most people handle it if they don’t have access to a refrigerator at work.

How Often Do I Eat?

Charlene asked, “How often do you eat? Every 3/4 hours? I’m trying to prep but I’m having difficulty covering all food groups. How many servings each day kind of thing. I seem to be short.

I eat about every three hours. I have to eat between classes, usually when I’m standing in the hall greeting kids to class. They are very used to this routine. I try to have a protein and carb at every meal. Fats come from the protein sources and from almonds that I buy in bulk and keep at work. And avocados or that roasted red pepper dressing I like, but I don’t have these things everyday. Because I eat a little of everything in all meals, I don’t really think in “servings”. And the amount of each thing vary depending on the number of calories I’m working with for that day. It’s a very individual thing, so knowing how much I eat won’t apply to anyone else. I log my food and have to hit a certain number of grams of each of the macros – proteins, carbs, and fats. I eat four times at work (I work out in the mornings before work), and log during the day. When I get home, I eat two more times. I log as I eat, so I can keep track of how many more grams of whatever I need.

Adrianne asked “I want to learn more about clean eating. What is clean? I read that some consider honey as unclean, how can that be? I see people post that they are 100% clean, yet use whey protein mix.

“Clean” to me means food grown my God. Most, but not all, of things I eat don’t have labels – veggies, meats, eggs, fruit, and nuts. If there is a label, there aren’t many ingredients and those ingredients are natural. I avoid processed foods, which I believe is the widely accepted definition of “clean” = “not processed”. I try to avoid refined sugar, but I like fruits. Fruits are not necessary in the diet since all the phytochemicals in them can be found in vegetables. I do try to eat a variety of vegetables to get as many of those wonderful things as I can, but I do like blueberries, apples, bananas, and oranges. When competition cutting gets a little serious, most fruits will cycle out. I only use stevia for a sweetener. I’m a coffee drinker and can’t handle it black. But coffee creamer is a kind of a cesspool of chemicals. It was hard to give it up. But I replaced it with almond milk and stevia. I’ve heard some people like coconut milk with coffee. I’m sticking with the lower calorie almond milk. For Christmas, I bought a small, flavored creamer. It tasted funny to me since I hadn’t had it in so long. When nut butters are in my meal plan, I use freshly ground almond butter. I don’t even buy “natural nut butters” because they have things in them that aren’t nut butter – like palm oil. I like my foods to be simple.

However, I do use supplements like protein powders and pre-workout drinks. Not clean. But I don’t eat based on an ideology. I eat to grow muscle, for recovery, and to bolster my immune system. I eat to feel good. It seems my age or hormone changes have caused some food intolerances. Wheat products are pretty much out, but I do well with Jasmine rice.

Melanie suggested “Cellucor Super Sport is a whey protein powder that is ultra clean…you may want to look into that..it is the cleanest one I have found on the market.”

More questions? All the info you need is out there, but I understand how frustrating it is when you don’t even know what you’re looking for. I have several posts and comments on this blog made about food prep and nutrition. If you can’t find what you are looking for there, I’m happy to help point you in the right direction so you can find answers.

Also, please add your tips to the comments. I know my blogger buddies have their own shortcuts. After a few years of this, I forget about a lot of things that I do without thinking now.

 

If you would like personal fitness nutrition coaching, please contact me privately with an email to TammyDTRFitness@gmail.com

10 Comments

Filed under Life, Nutrition

Favor Please?

If you are willing, would you please go on Facebook and “Like” this page?

https://www.facebook.com/dtrfit

I will be making contributions on this page.  Soon, I hope to be doing online coaching with this business.  We are working out the details now.   I think most of it will be fitness nutrition coaching.  My “evil plan” is to grow a new career on the side slowly so I can retire from teaching in a few years.  Or sooner if it really takes off and/or if teaching becomes too stressful.  (I should blog about the changes that I think are going to push good people out of teaching – nah.  That’s no fun.)

 

Thank you Blogger Buddies!!!

10 Comments

Filed under Nutrition, Personal Training