Protein is one of our three macro-nutrients, and arguably the most important (and the most commonly under-consumed).
It also can be a huge change maker to your fat loss goals due it being the most satiating and satisfying macro-nutrient.
Protein helps build and repair almost every tissue in our bodies, not just our muscles even though it is definitely important for them too. It is also helpful in maintaining or improving bone density, skin, hair growth and even fingernails. For pregnant mama's its also important for helping baby grow!
Protein also helps synthesize important hormones, including hormones that control our mood and help us to unwind and relax.
What you may not know is that happy hormones add in fat loss, and therefore eating adequate amounts of protein can be a boost to our metabolism.
And most importantly for us . . . protein helps us feel fuller and more satisfied longer.
So how much should we consume? It is recommended that you consume from .6-2g of protein per pound of body weight. Usually around .8 is a great place to start with around 160g being the max just for lifestyle and consistency purposes. (if you're plant based, .4-.6 is a great place to start).
If you're unsure as to how much protein you consume on a daily basis, a great place to start is to just track! You can do this with free resources such as MyFitnessPal (which is what all of my clients use), Cronometer, or just good old fashioned pen and paper.
(if you want to know more about calculating your macros and tracking, make sure to sign up for my FREE webinar, Macros Made Easy, on May 27th 2021)
Here are 10 tips for increasing your over all protein intake each day:
- Start early! Our bodies like a constant supply of protein, and one of the most common things I see individuals miss out on is that first meal! A lot of our quick and easy grab breakfast sources are carb rich. Adding protein on early in the day can help us with our energy supply throughout the day, keep us fuller longer, help keep us satisfied, and can help eliminate afternoon cravings and energy slumps. Simply adding in around 20g of protein can make a huge difference. Don't have a lot of time? Try just adding in a protein shake! Or check out this free guide for some more protein-packed breakfast choices. Grab my FREE Protein Packed Breakfast Guide!
- Make sure you have 20-30g of protein at every meal. Do you usually skip lunch due to scheduling conflicts, work or forget? Try to adding even a small protein focused lunch to your day. If you didn't utilize a shake at breakfast, perhaps you can grab a shake during your working lunch, or on a walk. (remember, you need breaks too! If at all possible take your well deserved lunch) Of course we will always recommend the majority of our protein to come from whole foods, but as you gradually start to increase you protein intake, don't be fearful of supplementation (it is however recommended that no more than 80g of your daily intake come from powdered protein sources). If you're used to having salads for lunch, great! Dump some protein on top or try to add just a little bit more. If your short on time our resources during this meal, try to make that protein a priority. Again, this will help prevent those afternoon cravings and later evening desires to binge.
- Stock up on easy sources. Make sure that you always have easy, readily available protein sources at your disposal. Whether it's having pre-made shakes in the fridge, greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, or even protein bars in your purse, make sure that not having access isn't a reason to not hit your goal. One strategy that I regularly use is to have a tasty protein bar in my purse at all times for a sweet afternoon treat, a little bite of sweet after lunch, or for when cravings or hunger hit. Remember, you can have just a bite or two and more often than not take the edge off, get a little protein, and have more for later!
- Pre-cook or prep protein sources each week. One of my most favorite weekly chores that I have instated each week is to cook chicken breast in bulk each Sunday in my InstantPot. This is an easy way to always have a tasty protein source on hand. I will keep a few in breast form for lunches or busy night dinners (just add your seasoning or sauce of choice) and shred the majority. Shredded chicken can be used to make healthy chicken salad, top on salads, add to soups, or quick weeknight stir-frys. Truly the possibilities are endless and when it's already cooked it saves loads of time and makes hitting my goals a breeze.
- Buy pre-cooked sources! Purchase rotisserie chicken, frozen chicken nuggets, pre-cooked shrimps or other sources to have on hand. I really like sources available at Costco and Aldi. Costco has great pre-cooked shrimp, flank steak, carnitas, chicken fajitas just to name a few! Similarly Aldi has chicken, pork and beef options that you can heat up in 3-5 minutes! Add some veggies and maybe some rice for a easy peasy option for lunch, (or even breakfast) and dinner.
- Double up when you cook dinner! If you're struggling with finding sources for lunch, or have some busy evenings coming up double up on whatever protein source your preparing for dinner! If you're cooking chicken, add some extra breasts! Steaks, pork chops whatever! This is an easy way to not create any more mess or take anymore time while insuring that you will have protein in the coming days.
- Eggs! Eggs can go on anything! They're not just for breakfast. Aside from adding in hardboiled eggs (which I love on a rice cake with some guac or avocado and some red pepper flakes for a snack) you can add scrambled eggs to stir-frys. salads, or adding to your protein sources for other meals. (side note, a quick scrambled egg with some seasoning and some veggies can be a really quick, inexpensive and easy snack or even lunch)
- Grill. Grilling can be such a fun summer past-time. But it can also be a great way to get some protein in! From Grilling burgers, steaks and kabobs, firing up the grill and hanging outside can be a great time to grill BULK protein sources! Grilling burgers? Season some chicken and throw it on right after! You can FREEZE this grilled options have them weeks down the road (just make a note so you don't forget!) It takes effort to get the grill out, so use it to get your protein sources prepped. Use different sauces and marinades. Make is a family affair spending time outside together playing games, eating and just enjoying nature while your food is being prepared.
- Keep it simple. Pick 2-3 protein sources each week. It is tempting to go all in and buy all of the protein, but truthfully more often than not we're creatures of habit. Try to plan your meals around the same 2-3 sources for the week to make shopping, prepping and tracking a little easier.
- Start small. Don't try to go from 0 to hero! If you started tracking and notice you're under-consuming, (it's okay, and common) start small. If you're currently not starting your day with protein just start there. Set small, achievable goals to maybe increase your total daily intake 10-20g at a time. If you're already eating protein at each meal, focus on a protein-packed snack, or just adding small amount of protein to each meal. Prioritize your protein at your meals. Remember, it's the most satisfying and satiating, therefore it will fill you up the quickest! Don't fill up on carbs before making sure you're getting adequate amounts of protein in your meal.
I'd love to hear from you and know what you're trying to increase your protein sources. If you're not already, make sure you join us in the Strong Mama's and Macros Community!