If you’ve changed your diet to lose weight or get in shape, be sure you’re including enough of this important macronutrient. Without sufficient protein, your muscles won’t have what they need to grow (and you know by now how passionate I am about muscle). Just reducing your fat and overall calories won’t do the trick, you have to feed those muscles!
How much, you say? For those of us working out on a regular basis the accepted formula is between 1 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass (LBM), which is your body weight minus the body fat (calculate LBM). However, too many numbers make me crazy, and if you feel the same way, you can simplify the formula by just taking your body weight and dividing it by the number of meals you have in a day. That will give you the approximate target for grams of protein per meal.
For the record, I have only actually measured my body fat once beyond the standard calipers I bought off Amazon (during the Bod Poddysey), so don’t worry if you don’t feel like doing the math. The key for you, is most likely just getting a serving of protein into every meal.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s use 1 gram of protein for a woman with a body weight of 145. She eats 6 meals per day. This means she needs roughly 145g protein per day.
145/6 = ~24 grams of protein per meal
Now that you know how to calculate what you need, let’s talk about foods that will help you get to or at least near that number each day. You’ll want to include significant sources of protein for every meal. For me, this means at least 17g per serving. I don’t count calories or weigh my food. My policy is to always include high protein foods for each meal, so the numbers generally take care of themselves.
Please don’t feel you have to analyze and worry about this formula too much. I only included it to use as a guideline for what you need on a daily basis. Of course you can always tweak this once you see how your body responds.
SOME GOOD PROTEIN SOURCES:
Lowfat Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup) 14g
Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt (1 cup) 23g
Tuna Pouch (2.6 oz) 17g
Protein Shake (varies per brand) 20g
Egg Whites (5) 20g
Cod Fillet (4 oz) 20g
Tofu (1/2 cup) 20g
Tilapia Fillet (4 oz) 23g
Skinless Chicken Breast (4 oz) 24g
Lean Sirloin (95%) 24g
Extra Lean Ground Turkey (4 oz) 26g
Mahi Mahi Fillet (5 oz) 28g
WHAT ABOUT NUTS? When I first started eating clean I was very excited to see nuts on the list of approved foods in the books and articles I read. They are a wonderfully crunchy and satisfying snack. However, I learned the hard way that you have to watch your intake to keep your diet in balance. Yes, nuts do have protein in them, but from a macronutrient standpoint nuts and nut butters are considered good fats. They definitely have a place in your diet via 2-3 servings per day. However, with only about 9g of protein per serving, you won’t satisfy your protein requirements and could go overboard on fat and calorie intake.
I know it may seem like a lot at first, but I’m willing to bet the amazing results you see from the proper protein intake will help you adjust in no time!
What’s your favorite protein? How do you prepare it?