You think protein is just for bodybuilders and those fitness people chugging protein shakes in the gym? Think again! If your goal is to increase health, energy, and lose weight, try adding more protein to your diet STAT! Here are just some protein facts & tips for you!
Protein’s primary function in the body is to build and maintain muscle tissue. To increase muscle mass, you need to engage in resistance training, consume a sufficient amount of calories (usually over maintenance) and be a positive nitrogen (protein) balance (because the body is continuously manufacturing and breaking down proteins- the average adult turns over 320g of protein per day!)
-Protein is also the basis of many enzymes and hormones and the immune system is protein-based, so you really need to make sure you are meeting your protein needs to keep your immune system functioning properly!
*Whey protein seems to be the best method for obtaining the building blocks of glutathione- a valuable antioxidant in the body. Glutathione destroys free radicals and is involved with the detoxification of carcinogens.
Consuming protein has a greater thermogenic (fat-burning) effect than any other macronutrient. Did you know that you burn calories just from eating? Consumption, Digestion & Metabolism of food all counts towards your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure; the calories you burn to survive, including all of your activities). Thermogenesis is the reaction that occurs in your body and generates heat and occurs when organs are functioning, when we are exercising, when we are eating, etc. About 10% of your daily energy expenditure each day is purely from eating. Basically protein takes more work and burns more calories to break down, which is why people on higher protein diets usually see better results in their body composition especially. Also, you will feel more satisfied after eating a high protein meal, as they keep you full and satisfied! Bonus!
So how much protein should I be eating per day? You can figure this out with a few simple calculations. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for adults is .8g/kg of body weight daily. This is for the average adult, although this number is too low to protect against the loss of skeletal muscle mass that occurs with aging. Athletes in training need more protein than just the average athlete as well. Here are some ballpark recommendations:
Sedentary Adults: .8g/kg daily
Recreational Athletes (low to moderate training volume): 1.0g/kg
Endurance Athletes: 1.2-1.4g/kg daily
Ultra endurance athletes: 1.2-2.0g/kg
Strength Athletes: 1.5-2.0g/kg
If your goal is to increase muscle mass you should definitely be on the higher range of this scale, since we need to maintain the positive nitrogen balance, as well as promote skeletal muscle synthesis.
So if you want to feel fuller longer, build lean muscle, burn more calories just by simply eating, make sure you are meeting your protein recommendations based on your activity level! These are my favourite ways to add a little more protein into my diet:
Egg White Oats:
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup egg whites
1/4 cup almonds milk
-Mix well. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, then microwave for another minute and stir. Egg whites add about 7-8 more grams of protein into your typical bowl of oatmeal, not to mention they magically make the bowl seem so much fuller and fluffier! This helps me stay full. Another option is adding in 1/2-1 scoop of protein powder into your oats if you don’t mind the taste!
Add a dollop of peanut butter and fruit in there and a tbsp of chia seeds- you have all the complex carbs, filling fats & protein to have an energetic morning!
Greek Yogurt “Cheesecake”
I love greek yogurt, but I’ll admit I HATE the taste of plain greek yogurt. Even if I have a tiny taste of it I think its disgusting, but I’ve found ways to love it because I don’t like eating yogurt with added sugars you should try to avoid them too!
Mix greek yogurt with 1 tbsp sugar free jello pudding mix, and 1/2 scoop protein powder and a little almond milk, vanilla extract. I sometimes put this in my magic bullet to make it nice and fluffy and thick, or just mix by hand. Tastes like cheesecake! *Also, check out my facebook page for the amazing protein cheesecake recipe I posted!
I like simple easy things, so I’m all about blending a scoop of protein powder with some spinach, frozen banana for extra creaminess, and protein powder. Easy way to get 20-25g of protein!
I don’t like to recommend supplements or bars really because I believe in eating whole, real foods.. But sometimes you don’t have time to cook and you still want to reach for something healthy. I LOVE quest bars- you can bake them, warm them up, eat them plain- and with 20g of protein, 1-2g of sugar, and 17g of fibre. You really can’t go wrong!
Tuna & Hummus & Avocado
An easy snack that I whip up to take with me is simply a can of tuna, mash in some avocado & hummus, and a little mustard and eat up with a spoon or some crackers! Super high in protein and also getting those great healthy fats from the avocado.
Go have a some extra protein today!