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Why You Need Protein!

When it comes to the Standard American Diet, there are daily recommendations for understanding what to be eating and how much to ensure you’re getting enough of each macronutrient: protein, smart carbohydrates and heart healthy fats.

It’s no surprise hitting the recommended goals for carbs and fats is achieved with little to no effort; but protein on the other hand is a much different story!

Did you know protein is usually the most under-consumed macronutrient? (gasp)

As a Nutrition Coach, this gives me anxiety, so I am here to help you understand:

  1. Why you NEED protein

  2. 6 signs you’re not getting enough

  3. 5 ways to score more!


Why Does Your Body Need Protein?

If you are a Results Fitness Warrior or LOVE reading these super insightful Coaches Blogs, you know the drill and my personal mantra- FOOD IS FUEL!

You should always be focusing on well-balanced meals featuring lean proteins, leafy greens and a variety of other vegetables. That is basic but uber-valuable nutrition 101 advice (you’re welcome!).

Here is why: Protein is vitally important for a number of reasons. Along with building and repairing muscle tissue, protein is necessary for keeping you satisfied and protecting your immune system.

…wait what?! who knew?! …that’s like really important stuff!

By now you may be thinking to yourself: “Oh, man – I need to step up my protein game! How much should I be eating?!”

You are off to a great start! Now, let’s get specific so you have the information to decide if you are eating enough or need more:

First, start by using the palm of your hand when measuring protein servings for your meals:

  • Ladies: you are going to want to aim for 1 palm-sized portion with each and every meal. This is equal to approximately 4 ounces.

  • Fellas: you are going to want to aim for 2 palm-sized portions of protein with each and every meal. This is equal to approximately 8 ounces.

If you choose to have a healthy snack during the day, be sure it includes a lean protein source to keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Here’s what 1 palm of protein looks like:

Secondly, along with quantity, the QUALITY of the protein you are consuming is equally important.

  • When choosing protein sources, look for options such as lean animal proteins, fish and seafood.

  • For plant-based protein options, opt for choices such as beans, legumes and lentils.

  • Examples to get you started:

    • Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey

    • Halibut, Salmon, Scallops, Shrimp, Tuna

    • Eggs, Egg Whites

    • Cottage Cheese, Plain Greek Yogurt

    • Whey Based Powders

    • Beans, Edamame, Lentils

    • Quinoa, Spelt, Teff, Wild Rice

    • Plant Based Powders

As you can see, there are plenty of protein options available for many types of dietary considerations. Pick what you genuinely like!


6 Sign You Need MORE Protein

Most of us may not even realize, but there are telltale signs our bodies just aren’t getting enough protein. Let’s discuss what these are so you can play detective and later, learn how to add more to your daily diet.

Here 6 signs you are not getting the proper amount of protein your body needs:

  1. Constant Hunger- Are you ALWAYS hungry? Without enough protein, it will be difficult to keep your appetite satisfied because protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients. If you find yourself consistently snacking throughout the day, evaluate your meals and make lean proteins (and veggies!) your main focus. This will help reduce snacking/grazing while giving your body what it needs!

  2. How You Feel After You Exercise- Do you often find yourself feeling wiped-out and/or extremely sore after workouts? If you want to feel more energized and recover efficiently, protein is absolutely essential to make this happen. Proper protein intake is vital for building and repairing muscle tissue after exercising. That means you can continue showing up and exercising at the frequency and intensity you enjoy day after day!

  3. Repeated Illnesses- Have you recently recovered from one illness only to move on to the next bout of sickness? Protein is the building block of antibodies produced by our immune systems, and our bodies use these antibodies to fight off infection. This is a big deal and something we don’t even realize.

  4. Bad MoodHave you been feeling more and more miserable (a.k.a HANGRY) lately? Eating the required amount of protein fuels your body and helps stabilize your mood. Your co-workers and family will thank you.

  5. FatigueIs an afternoon slump a consistent part of your daily schedule? No energy to make it through day-to-day activities let alone a workout? Once again, protein! Over time, lack of protein consumption will begin to take a toll on your energy levels ESPECIALLY if you lead an active lifestyle.

  6. Loss of Muscle MassFeeling like you are losing strength? When protein is in short supply, your body begins taking protein from other sources such as skeletal muscle to preserve more important tissues and bodily functions. Over time, this leads to a decrease in muscle mass. Protect those precious muscles by eating your protein!


5 Ways to Level Up your Protein Intake

If you took time to read through this blog and have decided YES, you do in fact need more protein, here are 5 ways to increase your protein consumption – pick 1 or 2 and see how you feel.

  1. Make protein and vegetables the main event when creating a meal. Start by filling half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. You my not know this but many vegetables contain protein – double bonus! Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, asparagus and broccoli are just a few examples of choices containing the highest amounts of protein per serving.

    From there, add your protein. Try choosing from one of the options listed above. Next, add your smart carbs and healthy fats to round out and balance your meal.

  2. Choose smart carbs doubling as a protein source. Grains such as quinoa, whole-wheat pasta and oatmeal contain a considerable amount of protein per serving.

  3. Top salads with seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Each of these options will provide you with a little extra protein kick in a small package.

  4. Choose protein-containing condiments. Try your hand at making your own salad dressings or veggie dips using Greek yogurt as a base.

    Greek yogurt is packed with protein and a versatile ingredient to use. The great thing about Greek yogurt is it takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with, whether it be savory or sweet. Tahini is another protein-packed option great for creating quick and easy salad dressings.

  5. Sip on bone broth. Switch out your afternoon tea or coffee for a cup of bone broth. One cup of bone broth can contain about 10 grams of protein per cup (this is an average and will vary by brand). As an added bonus, it can be a great snack to tide you over until your next meal.

So remember: the next time you choose a meal, make the protein and vegetables your star! In turn, you will be receiving a plethora of benefits that will have you performing, feeling and looking your best!


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