Did you know that protein is important to consume in your diet daily? Did you know that everyone actually has a protein requirement based on their weight and size? Protein is the building blocks of muscle formation, and when we increase the amount of muscle mass that is in our bodies, we automatically decrease the amount of body fat. I tell most people that our weight is dependent upon a ratio of mass, body fat, and water. Why is this important to know? Well your body can look completely different if your 5’7, 150 pounds with 34% body fat and 10% muscle, versus 10% bodyfat and 34% muscle. Muscle ways more than fat, and totally changes the structure of your body. This is what create lean versus skinny looks in women. This is why, once you are in a healthy weight range, its not as important to look at the scale.
Most people on a weightloss journey get obsessed with fad diets which kind of make you concentrate on just fruits and vegetables, or maybe just too much protein, and you have to find a healthy balance. Once you eliminate the big things such as sugars, fats, and bad carbs, the next step is to focus on green veggies, good carbs like sweet potatoes, yams,whole wheat grains like brown rice & quinoa, and most importantly protein. It is common to see people shed weight, but have excess skin, or still not look toned after their weightloss, and this because they lost both fat and muscle. This could simply be prevented if protein is consumed in at least 35% of your daily calories. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that 7.7% of adolescent females and about 8% of older adult women weren't getting the minimum recommended amount of protein.
According to the CDC these are the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for individuals.
Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein
Grams of protein
needed each day
Children ages 1 – 3: 13g
Children ages 4 – 8: 19g
Children ages 9 – 13: 34g
Girls ages 14 – 18: 46g
Boys ages 14 – 18: 52g
Women ages 19 – 70+: 46g
Men ages 19 – 70+: 56g
These are bare minimums and it actually changes due to weight and physical activity level. For instance, I am 5’7 and 135lbs and mine is about 110g. The Institute of Medicine breaks it down even more based on your activity level.
Sedentary=Weight in pounds X .4
Active=Weight in pounds. X .6
Competitive athlete=Weight in pounds X .75
Light body-builder=Weight in pounds X .85
Now that you’ve learned about protein, you’ll be reading some labels as you do your meal prep for the week!
Tuna (yellowfish), 33g, 4 oz.
Roasted chicken, 32g, 3/4 cup, diced
Lean flank steak, 31g,4 oz.
Soybeans, 21g, 3/4 cup
Lentils, 17g, 1 cup
Non-fat plain Greek yogurt, 15g, 6 oz.
You want your meals to stick to the ratio: 1/3 lean protein, 2/3 complex carbs. Our proetins can be animal or plant based, but just remember to get it often ( I say 4/5 meals at least). If you eat meat, look at the packages for the word “Lean”, and pay attention to the fat content. Some sources not listed, string cheese, cottage cheese, salmon, tilapia, ground turkey, tofu, and especially eggs. For all the vegans, there are soy based products, but be extremely mindful of the sodium. If you eat “meat-imitation” products, make sure to get extra water and fiber that day, to flush out the sodium.
Tips to Know
· Protein helps you feel fuller longer (which is no surprise as to why many cultures incorporate beans in their daily meals) and feeds those muscle which eventually will affect the speed of your metabolism.
· Consume at least 15g of protein for breakfast (sorry bagel and oj is not gonna cut it, nor is bran cereal)
· Have a protein snack 1-2 hours before bed. It helps your metabolism while sleeping
· ALWAYS consume a protein enriched meal within 30 mins of your workout. Sooner the better. Most people resort to protein enriched shakes, I personally use Herbalife shakes because they don’t have dangerous chemicals and fillers as many others do, so be mindful of ingredients
The biggest takeaway is to know protein is important, and to make sure you get it the healthy way, Prep your meals for the week or every couple of days. Take an hour (many times less than that) choose to sources of protein, cook them. Choose your green veggies and a carb, cook them. Put everything in small containers and stock it in the fridge. Even choose what your protein snacks are going to be (string cheese, deli meat, greek yogurt & nuts, oats and cranberries, whole wheat tortilla with spinach and avocado, etc.)
Written By: Tiffany Wright