There is a lot of hype in the fitness world around protein! We know it is essential for muscle growth and repair so it's no surprise that this important macro-nutrient is a popular topic of conversation in most gyms.
But protein is not just for building big muscles! It is also essential for great skin, hair, and nails and for our health overall. If you don't get enough lean, healthy protein in your diet, you will struggle to heal from wounds, digest your food, fight off colds and flu, create hormones essential for all major bodily functions, or even think clearly! When people who were previously deficient in protein begin to increase their consumption, they are able to regulate their blood pressure, prevent and sometimes even reverse diabetes and osteoporosis.
So we can clearly see how vital protein is to help us function and combat numerous health issues. But what about weight loss? We know it is helpful for building muscle but what about losing fat? It is not uncommon for me to hear clients say that protein is high in calories so they think they need to decrease how much they eat if they are to lose weight....unfortunately this method of thinking couldn't be further from the truth!
Protein has the ability to boost your metabolism. And we all know that an efficient metabolism is essential for successful, long-term weight loss. But another often overlooked benefit of protein is that it helps you to feel satiated. Simply put, when you eat protein in every meal, you will be able to feel fuller for longer and will therefore be less likely to crave carbs and sugary treats between meals.
If carb and sugar cravings are at the top of your list of weight loss challenges, and you would like some support to figure out a plan to help you get your weight under control, CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE YOUR FREE STRATEGY SESSION and let's brainstorm together :)
Protein is important for so many reasons! But it is just as important that we are eating the right amount....not too little and not to much!
How much protein is enough?
Everyone's protein requirement will be different based on a number of different factors. As a starter for ten, consider the general minimum recommendation of 0.8 g/kg (0.36 g/lb) per day.
So, for a 68 kg (150 lb) healthy non-athletic adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.
But note, I said this is the MINIMUM RECOMMENDATION to ensure you do not become protein deficient. If you are looking however to IMPROVE your health, recover from injury or become more active as part of your weight loss plan, then you might want to consider increasing your daily intake up to 1.3 g/kg (0.6 g/lb) per day.
So that same 68 kg (150 lb) adult is now looking for about 88g of protein/day.
Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that's common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.
Now it is possible, as with all things, to get too much of a good thing too! So how much protein is too much?
As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. This is why it is so important to stick close to the calculation guidelines above and only increase protein further if your body weight/muscle mass increases significantly also.
Excess protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body if not utilised by the body upon consumption. The good news however is protein does not convert as easily or as quickly as carbohydrates or fat. This is because of its "thermic effect."
The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend more energy (i.e., burn calories) than when digesting fats or carbohydrates.
If you’re concerned that increasing your protein intake might harm your kidneys, don’t be. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids (the end result of metabolised protein) from the blood. Kidney issues are only likely in people who have an existing kidney problem already. In these circumstances, it is always wise that an individual seek medical advice either from a GP or a nutritionist before embarking on any weight loss plan or new dietary regime.
So do you know how to "guesstimate" the amount of protein in your meals? Here is a handy starter guide.
● A 3.5 oz chicken breast has 31 g protein.
● A 3.5 oz can of salmon has 20 g protein.
● ½ cup cooked beans (kidney/navy/haricot) contain 6-9 g protein.
● A large egg contains 6 g protein.
● ¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 g protein (focus on walnuts/almonds/brazil nuts for additional benefits from healthy fats).
● 1 medium baked potato contains 3 g protein (sweet potatoes too!).
So hopefully by now I have convinced you that adequate protein intake is a necessity if you are trying to lose weight and improve your health overall. Aim to include a portion of protein with every main meal and ideally as part of a healthy snack too. This will make sure your blood-sugar levels remain balanced and will help keep carb and sugar cravings at bay.
I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know in the comments.
Recipe (high-protein): Rainbow Salad with Minty Salmon (serves 4)
2 cups romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped small
1 cucumber, chopped small
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped small
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped small
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped small
1 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven broiler to high or if a broiler is not available heat the over to 500 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the romaine, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, parsley, mint, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest. Toss well and set aside.
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and place the salmon fillets on sheet.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place under the oven broiler can cook for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned on top and cooked through. Check the salmon half way though and rotate the pan as needed so the salmon browns evenly.
Spoon the salad into serving bowls and place the salmon on top. Sprinkle the remaining lemon zest on top of the salmon. Serve and enjoy!