Why You Should be Eating More Protein

At breakfast, I am already obsessing over lunch and dinner plans. At dinner, I’m upset because it’s the last meal of the day. I’ll be starving by morning!

While I don’t think my food obsession will ever go away (I love it dearly), thankfully what has gone away is the physical groaning of my stomach throughout the day. Why? Because I’ve diversified the nutritional attributes of my meals to increase, specifically, protein.  Yup. That simple. Read on, foodies!

Protein helps build and tone mustcle

I follow a high protein diet to keep me full while helping to build and tone muscle. Photo by KremerJohnson

 

 

 

Quench your food addiction with protein

While I’ve written about meal prep in the past, I haven’t yet explained how or why I choose the meals I do for prepping. A MAJOR player in determining if a meal is worth prepping for me is the protein content.  Before switching up my diet a few years ago, I wasn’t eating nearly enough protein for my body type (especially for how much I exercise). I’d experience something comparable to ravenous food-oholism and reach for the easy-on-the-go carby snacks like crackers and chips. I couldn’t seem to get full (and I was eating less healthy items).  The one thing I’ve found that keeps me fuller for longer is protein.

Do you suffer from a continuously growling stomach? Just a hunch – but I’m guessing you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet, either.

How much protein should you be eating?

This question is tricky, because each person requires a different amount based on factors like your sex, weight and lifestyle.  The daily minimum recommended by the  is 0.36 grams per pound. Now, for someone who is sedentary, that may be enough. I personally believe .36g per day is WAY too low. For the average healthy adult who does some exercise regularly and whose primary goals are to get toned, lose fat or increase strength, I suggest consuming closer to 1g of protein per pound of body weight. It’s simple – the ratio is 1 to 1.

If you weigh 150 lbs, your goal should be to consume 150g of protein per day.

What does THAT much protein look like?

“Grams” may not mean anything to you. You may be thinking, I have no idea what 150g of protein looks like. It may help to compare different meals side by side.

I spoke with a friend who recently asked me to help create her meal plan. We took a diary of her previous day’s meals and compared it to what I’d suggest for her. Here’s what my comparison looked like based on protein and calories for a few meals of the day:

 

Protein Comparison for similar meals

Protein and calorie comparison for similar meals *estimated

While both menus are at least relatively  healthy, my suggested menu is less calories and significantly higher in protein. Now, you may think my suggested breakfast menu is way too much food. But check out the calories compared to eggs and toast. My meal is actually less calories and double the protein. It will keep you satisfied for longer in the morning and also give you the nutrients you need for muscle toning and weight loss. And for those of you who skip breakfast – you’re screwing up your bodily system. You may be able to fast for several hours in the morning. Unfortunately, fasting doesn’t help your metabolism like eating breakfast does. Get water into your system almost as soon as you wake up, and don’t skip meals.

STOP SKIPPING BREAKFAST.

Without healthy nutrients to burn off, your body starts digging into your muscle rather than eating away the fat. I’m not sure if you ever watch those weight loss shows and the contestants are surprised by how large and filling portions of healthy food are. That’s because it is packed with great nutrients – and you can eat more of it because it’s better for you. Food is fuel! With my suggested menu, my friend is well on her way to consuming her weight (130 lbs) in protein (130g). With her own typical daily menu, she’d need to squeeze in 90 more grams of protein with only one meal left in the day. That’s just absurd.

Getting some EXTRA protein

Sometimes there are the days where you just aren’t able to consume the desired amount of protein over the course of a few meals. In those instances,  I have a few tips for sneaking extra protein into your food.

  • Chop up 2 hardboiled egg whites and toss them into your favorite recipe. You can’t taste any egg, I promise! (+10g protein boost)
    Add Egg Whites to your Tuna for some Extra Protein

    Add chopped boiled egg whites to your Tuna for 10 extra grams of protein

  • Add flavorless protein to salad dressing or other sauce.
  • Give your daily smoothie a boost! Make a good ol’ fashioned protein shake. While I don’t suggest replacing meals with protein shakes for nutritional value’s sake, I do think they are a great option for snacking while providing a very good source of protein.
  • Make some easy substitutions in your grocery store shopping:
Protein Meal Substitutions

Get the most out of your meals! Purchase options with high protein.

  • Add more high protein foods to your grocery list:
    • Meat! Turkey, Chicken, Beef, Pork
    • Fish (all kinds)
    • Protein supplements (powder,bars,etc)
    • Beans (all kinds)
    • Nuts (all kinds)
    • Yogurt
    • Eggs
    • Milk
    • Cheese
    • Nut and Seed Butters
    • Oatmeal (and add chia seeds and nut butter!
    • Quinoa
    • Hummus for dips

 

As a model, I’ve tried numerous eating plans.  I can honestly say that nothing filled me up and leaned me out quite like a high protein diet. I am eating more food, getting less cravings, and finding it easier to tone overall!

If you find yourself snacking throughout the day and can’t quite quench that hungry feeling, take a higher protein diet out for a spin! First step – see how many items you can put on your next grocery list that contain protein.

As always, thanks for reading. Please comment – they make me smile!

In good health,

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