Protein. In the health and fitness world, that word is thrown around like it’s made of gold. Everybody’s talking about it, everybody’s eating it, and everybody’s drinking it. But why? And how much should you be getting? And what foods are good sources? So let’s discuss.
Why is Protein Important?
Protein is a key aspect of your diet because it’s the building block for your bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. According to WebMD it’s an “important component of every cell” in your body and it’s used to “build and repair tissues”. It’s a macronutrient which means you need it in larger quantities than certain others. Carbohydrates and Fats are also macronutrients, whereas vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. The unique thing about protein is that your body does NOT store it, which means you need to replenish it every day! Another cool fact – 1 gram of it has 4 calories, just like 1 gram of carbs has 4 calories (FYI, 1 gram of fat has 9 calories). Protein can aid in weight loss and helps keep you fuller, longer! Bottom line, this macronutrient plays a huge role in your health and well being, so it’s important to pay attention to it.
(Source – WebMD)
How Much is Enough?
Okay, so we get why protein is so important, but how much do we need?? The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 0.8 gramg per 1 kilogram of body weight (RDA is basically the amount you need to meet your body’s nutritional requirements). In pounds, that means your body weight multiplied by 0.36. For example, a 150 pound person should be eating 56 grams each day.
KEY POINT – that calculation is for a SEDENTARY person. For those that live a more active lifestyle, more needs to be consumed. Typically, protein should make up 10-35% of your daily diet! So the more active you are, the higher your percentage should be. Oftentimes, very active people drink their “shakes” or “smoothies” because they are at the higher end of that percentage and it’s a quick and easy way to meet that requirement! I’ll have a shake on occasion, but my favorite way to include protein is through powder as part of my Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats 🙂
(Source – Harvard Health Publications)
What Foods Should I Eat?
Now we understand why protein is important and how much we should be eating, but what foods are a good source?
- Seafood – if you’re anything like me, you’re always telling yourself to eat more fish. Why? Because it’s a good source of protein and typically low in fat!
- White-Meat Poultry – chicken and turkey are solid choices.
- Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt – skim milk is a great option and it has another valuable nutrient, calcium!
- Eggs – who doesn’t love a good omelet or scrambled eggs?
- Beans – the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you….?!? They’ve got loads of fiber, too!
- Lean Beef – we know that too much red meat is not a great idea (lots of saturated fats), but lean beef is definitely on the good list!
(This list is from WebMD)
And now what you’ve been waiting for – my list of tips on how to get enough HEALTHY protein in your day!
- Switch normal yogurt for Greek yogurt – this should be a fairly easy swap! Yes, the texture and taste is slightly different, but you’ll notice you won’t be hungry quite as quickly!
- Add your favorite powder to a shake, or smoothie, or just a glass of milk – like we mentioned above, it’s a quick and easy way to get what you need.
- Meal prep – this is so important! When you have your meals prepped, you know exactly how much you’re getting. If you aren’t prepped, odds are you’ll be reaching for those quick carbs.
- Balance your intake throughout the day – make sure each meal contains protein, especially breakfast. Too many people wait until dinner and then go super heavy (think steak).
- Switch out your carb snack for protein snack – how often is your snack chips, or crackers, or something similar? Instead, try almonds or jerky!
- Vary your sources – Vary where you get your protein from; meat, beans, cheese, nuts. This will ensure all those other macro and micro nutrient requirements are being met! If you just eat more chicken, you’ll be missing out on everything else.
- Pick healthy options – not all protein is considered equal. Choose those on the list above instead of red meat or processed meat.
If you like these tips, PIN IT!
Looking for more health & fitness tips? Check out a few of these:
- Do You Really Need a Personal Trainer?
- How To Make Exercising Work for YOU!
- How To Stay Healthy and Shop at Aldi
What’s your favorite source? Do you have any additional tips on getting enough healthy protein in your diet?