Are you eating enough protein?

Last week I discussed the importance of finding out if your diet was carb dominate.  The first suggestion I made was to increase protein STAT.  I cannot stress the importance of this enough.  I feel as though we have a protein epidemic in the typical American diet.  Carbs are dominate and protein is very limited.

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Why do I keep harping on the importance of protein?

Let me give you a quick rundown on what protein is responsible for on a daily basis.  Once we eat protein (lean meats, eggs, dairy, seafood and beans/legumes) the digestion phase begins and breaks down the protein into individual amino acids.

Once passed through the liver they end up in our bloodstream and flow into the plasma pool of amino acids.  From here the amino acids get to work and are highly important for our metabolism working efficiently, along with the production of the following functions:

  • Enzymes
  • Hormones
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Antibodies
  • Transport Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins

If your diet is carb dominate, your body is struggling to keep up the production of functions mentioned above.   To put it in simple terms you are tired all the time, your hormones are out of whack, your brain cannot think clearly, your immune system is taking a major hit, you have very little muscle mass and you are more than likely holding on to excess weight.

Although our bodies can make 12 of the non-essential amino acids, 8 of the essential amino acids can only come from dietary intake.  Here’s an interesting fact about protein.  If your dietary protein intake is adequate but you are lacking in the carb or fat department, protein can transform itself and fill in the gaps to keep your body functioning.  However, carbs and fats cannot transform into protein.  I hope you are now starting to understand how vitally important protein is to our health!

Here are a few more very important reasons to have adequate protein in your diet:

  1. Stimulation of metabolism
  2. Build and improve muscle mass
  3. Sustainable energy
  4. Recover faster from workouts
  5. Reduce body fat

So what is the recommendation of adequate protein intake for our bodies to function at its best?  For most people the recommendation is .8 – 1 gram of protein per body weight.  For athletes performing high intensity workouts the recommendation is 1.4 – 2 grams of protein per body weight.

What does this look like in terms of food?  Here is an example of my daily dietary protein intake varying between 130 -135 grams of protein.  Please keep in mind I ate other foods throughout the day, but if they did not contain any protein they are not listed below.

The following was tracked via My Fitness Pal.

Total Protein intake = 134g

Breakfast:

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  • 1 whole egg = 6g
  • 4 egg whites = 20g
  • Almond milk for coffee = 1g
  • 2 cups of baby spinach = 2g
  • Medium banana  = .8g
  • 1 tbs peanut butter = 4g

Total Protein for Breakfast = 34g

LunchFB_IMG_1455578308399

  • 5 oz. Wahoo Fish = 27g
  • 1 clementine = 1g
  • 2 cups of Romaine lettuce = 2g

Total Protein for Lunch = 30g

Snack:

  • 2 Blueberry buckwheat waffles = 1g
  • ½ cup of low-fat plain kefir yogurt = 6g

Total Protein for Snack = 7g

Pre-Workout:

  • Medium banana = .8g
  • Protein Shake = 25g

Total Protein for Pre-workout = 26g

Post-Workout/Dinner: FB_IMG_1455578333759

  • 5 oz. of Shrimp = 32g
  • ¾ cup of cooked Jasmine rice = 3g
  • 2 cups of Romaine lettuce = 2g

Total Protein for Post-Workout/Dinner = 37g

EAT MORE PROTEIN TO IMPROVE YOUR OVERALL HEALTH, END OF STORY!