By now you've realized protein is a strong factor in weight management. This macronutrient helps with building muscle, satiation, and fat loss. So many studies have pointed to protein being the key macronutrient in weight management programs. It didn't matter if it was low carb or low fat, as long as protein and caloric intake was kept at the appropriate levels, weight loss was achieved.
So, protein is pretty important.
But, it's hard to know how much is right for the goals we have and sometimes it's hard to wrap our head around how to consistently get that amount in each day.
How much is right for your goals?
Your goals are important and largely dictate how much protein you should consume each day. At a base level, we all should be getting in at least 0.5g per pound of bodyweight. So if you're 150 pounds you should find a way to get in at least 75g of protein each day. That's where we start with most of our clients and is the best starting place for most people.
The bare minimum is probably not your goal though if you want extraordinary results. This is when we suggest 0.7g of protein per pound of body weight. This level is where we hope you feel extremely comfortable. Whether you're moving from a weight loss target back into maintenance or weight gain back into maintenance, this 0.7 level should really be your base level of protein intake. Studies continue to show that this level is optimal for the general population and once achieved people could then focus on the other important macronutrients.
When looking for some weight loss or general body recomposition, we often suggest a slightly higher amount of protein, This is when we recommend 1.0g of protein per pound of bodyweight. We spoke previously about how protein is helpful for fat loss and keeps our body satiated so increasing the amount of protein when our goals are weight loss or general body recomposition is helpful to keep those hangry cravings away.
If you're happy with your current weight but looking to build some more muscle tone, we'd suggest increasing your protein intake even more. This is when we suggest 1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight. This with an increased amount of carbohydrates will result in the muscle mass increase you're looking for... as long as you're also following our new workout plan. ;)
Having fewer or more than these recommended amounts won't be the end of the world, but we have a general concern for our clients when they don't hit their numbers. The concern usually lies in not having the appropriate amounts of the other important macronutrients. Let's say you're finding it hard to get up to your recommended protein amounts, does that mean you're having too many carbs or fats? There could be an imbalance there you'll want to look into.
How to Get Enough
Knowing how much to consume each day is the easy part. Building the habits around making sure you hit your numbers is the hard part. I often say,
"if you haven't planned for it, don't be surprised when it doesn't happen."
Planning out your protein intake is crucial to your success. Many times if you haven't consumed between 40-50% of your protein intake BEFORE lunch...you won't hit it. That may seem like a lot in the beginning of the day but let's think about it. I'll use 200g as the target we'll try to hit.
6:00 am – Wake up and have a glass of water. Have a scoop of protein powder in addition to a banana or toast. That's 20 grams.
6:30 am – Participate in a workout and then come home for a quick after-workout snack. The snack could be something like our overnight oats recipe which has about 30-40g of protein depending on the size and toppings you put on it.
7:30 am – It's time for breakfast. A few eggs, add a little cottage cheese (which is my new favorite addition to my scramble!), and a breakfast protein. That's another 30-40g of protein.
You're already at around 90g of protein and it's not even lunch. You could have some tacos or a salad with some chicken for another 40-50g and then a nice steak for dinner (another 40-50g).
That's 200g of protein in a day and it didn't sound that ridiculous.
All it took was a little forethought and planning. Build your meals around your protein. Make sure each meal of your three main meals has at least 1/4 of your recommended protein intake and then supplement with protein-rich snacks.
Your protein intake shouldn't be a stressor in your life. Use these tips to clarify your goals and look for our Pretty Healthy Metabolism 8-week course coming out soon.