Protein Is King! 🤴 (09/27/2023)

Today’s blog comes from Gail, one of our coaches who also runs our intimate, small group nutrition program. Gail is Precision Nutrition certified and provides a long-term approach of systematically identifying and developing nutrition habits to discover your healthiest self.

Let’s get to it!

What’s the big deal about protein?

Let’s start with some basics. There are 3 macronutrients:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats

They are all an important part of any nutritional plan. Please do not place a judgement of good or bad to any of these macronutrients.

So why the emphasis on protein?

If we look at the foods available to us, it is relatively easy to get sufficient amounts of carbohydrates and fat into our diet. That is usually not an issue for most people. You never hear anyone say “Man, I need to find more ways to get enough carbs and fat in my diet!”.  That is why we won’t spend much time focusing on them in this newsletter and shift our focus on protein.

Remember, protein is not better, do not think of it as good or bad. Protein plays a unique role because it contains the building blocks to maintain and/or increase muscle. You might think to yourself, “Yeah, but I’m not looking to get bulky.” That’s not really what we’re talking about here. Muscle is important for everyone. As we age, maintaining muscle mass is like investing in your physical pension. Maintaining muscle will help you move well, be able bodied, and age gracefully. It takes more than eating more protein to “get bulky.”

How much protein should you eat?

The latest recommendations are to take your goal body weight and that is the number of grams of protein per day (if your goal weight is 150 pounds, then 150 grams protein per day).

If that is not a realistic number for you, don’t stress. Do an experiment and try to figure out how many grams of protein you typically get in a day.

If it is far from your goal weight, then see if you can gradually increase it a little. As you get used to those changes, maybe see if you can increase it a little more.

You might find a new level that is realistic for you and you feel good. For example, maybe consuming protein at 70% of your goal weight ends up being a sweet spot for you.  That could be a great improvement from the amount you were eating before. Don’t worry about having the perfect amount, we don’t live in a perfect world.

Here’s where people get a little caught up in the “good/bad” labels for macronutrients.

If you are increasing your protein, you might increase your overall calories. For example, 6 ounces of chicken has more calories that 4 ounces of chicken. If you don’t want to increase your overall calories, you may need to cut back on calories that come from carbohydrates and fat. This doesn’t mean those are bad. It just means that your overall total calories matter if you are trying to maintain or lose weight.

The hierarchy for managing your body weight is:

  1. stay within the calorie allotment for your goals, and
  2. get enough protein or as close as you can.

The rest of your calories (carbs and fat) will work themselves out naturally. Do not sacrifice #1 to get #2.

#1 is king.