We are excited to share this special guest post from Rebecca the Dietitian! We recognize how much the way you fuel your body influences your exercise results, and are excited to be able to bring you Rebecca’s sound eating advice to help you optimize your health, enjoy eating and get the most out of your workouts. We hope you will check out her post below and look forward to learning more from her. If you are in need of more guidance when it comes to nutrition, her comprehensive course, “Nourished & Fit” teaches you everything you need to know in order to lose weight, increase your energy, and balance your hormones (while enjoying delicious food of course)! Along with the course you will be invited to monthly group calls and a private Facebook community of amazing, supportive women. Please check out this link here to learn more (be sure to use the code ‘JSTV’ for a 30% discount).
Protein is a very important component of the foods you eat. Along with carbohydrates and fat, it’s one of the three macronutrients that you need to balance in your diet for optimal health. Protein is a building block for muscle, so of course, it is essential to consume adequate amounts, especially when you are trying to gain strength. Probably one of the most common questions that I get asked by athletes is, “am I getting enough protein?” so I figured that with so many of us working here to get stronger, it would be a great time to address this topic.
Am I getting enough protein?
Expert recommendations for protein have quite a large range, and that is likely because our bodies seem to be capable of adapting to stay healthy with a wide variety of protein intake. Reasonable professionals might suggest anywhere between 0.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. The good news here is that as long as you are eating a variety of different foods, you are probably getting enough protein. You can be very healthy even if you are towards the bottom range of recommended intake, and most people are getting at least that much without even trying.
Here are some interesting facts that will hopefully help you not worry so much about if you’re consuming adequate protein:
#1: Baby spinach has more protein per calorie than a filet mignon.
#2: Plain oatmeal (rolled oats) contains about 15% protein, 18% fat, and 67% carbohydrate, making it a really great macronutrient profile all by itself. Most of the time, we over-simplify foods and would consider oats to be just a carbohydrate source, but they actually contain a healthy amount of protein and fat.
#3: Food for thought: Have you ever known anyone to be sick because they weren’t getting enough protein? I work in a hospital, and I’ve never seen anyone who is well-nourished admitted to the hospital with a protein intake deficiency.
Here’s how to figure out the right amount of protein for your body:
If you love nutrition data and like to track your intake (there are lots of free apps and websites you can use like www.myfitnesspal.com ) you can set detailed protein goals. I would advise that you track your regular healthy foods for a week or two to see how much protein you consume on an average day and week. Then you can tweak your protein level and see how you feel. Track to see if adjusting your protein helps you feel more or less full/satisfied with your meals and snacks. Do you feel more or less energetic? Do you have good or bad side effects from the change in protein? A healthy person can play with anywhere from 10% to 30% of their calories coming from protein. Another way to look at this could be anywhere from about 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight to 1 gram of protein per pound.
If tracking isn’t your thing, don’t worry about it! A fun thing that you can do is to easily figure out if you are a “protein person” or a “carb person”. I recommend that my clients play around with different breakfasts to see if they are more satisfied from a heavier protein meal or a heavier carb meal. If you start your day with 300 calories of oatmeal with fruit, are you more or less satisfied than if you start with 300 calories of eggs and bacon? This will help you decipher what makes you feel most satisfied. I’m a “carb person,” so I could eat a big plate of eggs, but I won’t feel satisfied until I’ve had some hearty whole grain toast, grits, or oatmeal. If I just had the toast to begin with, I would be happy without the eggs and I wouldn’t be searching for more food. “Protein people” are the opposite. They need the eggs to be content. Knowing this about yourself can help you plan more satisfying meals and snacks. “Carb people” should focus on ensuring we get plenty of high-fiber whole grains, veggies, and fruit. “Protein people” should focus on getting high-quality protein sources with each meal and snack, like beans, nuts, eggs, or poultry.
Super high protein diets that cut out all carbs are not long-term healthy plans. When you cut out nutrient-dense food groups like fruit, whole grains, and beans, you are missing out on vital nutrients needed for a healthy body. This type of diet doesn’t have fiber to feed your microbiome, and you would be missing out on vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that fight disease and keep our bodies running smoothly. Plus, it seems that most people who lose weight on these diets end up gaining it back after they stop the plan. Stick with a plan that includes a variety of healthy, delicious, nourishing foods that you can enjoy long-term.
I hope this protein information helps ease your mind that you’re probably getting enough protein and encourages you to play with your protein intake to see what the right amount is for you to look and feel your best.
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Let us know if you are a protein person or a carb person in the comments below!