All About Protein
Mar 1, 2021
First, a quick background: food is made up of three macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. No, carbs aren’t bad, and no, fat won’t make you fat. (Unless you eat too much of it, and actually, eating too much of anything can make you gain weight.) Each of these three macronutrients have an important job in your body, and you need to be consuming all three in some amounts. For more information on the basics, check out our “Nutrition Basics” post on our blog.
Now that we’ve got the basics down, let's move on. Chances are, if you’re deficient in one macronutrient, it’s protein. People rarely have trouble getting enough carbohydrates or fat, but most people do not eat enough protein. Most adults need between .36 and .5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Why the variance? If you’re bigger, taller, or more muscular, you need more protein. Men need more protein than women (due to their size and additional muscle). If you’re looking to put on some serious muscle or doing a lot of strength training… more protein. And, you may not expect this, but seniors need more protein than their younger counterparts.
“But I don’t want to get bulky!!”
Please, if there’s one thing you learn today. No one, in the history of anyone ever, has gotten “bulky” by accident. No one has woken up and realized they resembled Arnold Schwarzenegger and said “How did I get here! All I did was up my protein intake!!” Want to get bulky? Work your tail off, for years, doing exercises intended to increase your muscle mass. Ladies, want to get bulky? Do that, plus take some PEDs, and make a whole lot of other bad decisions. There, bulky.
So now that we’ve established that eating the right amount of protein will in fact, not make you bulky but make you strong and powerful, take a look at your weight and other factors and figure out how much protein you should be getting. Do you get enough? Chances are, no.
Sometimes it’s hard to get enough protein without increasing your overall calories too much. We’ve compiled a list of protein sources you can add to your routine, as well as some tried and true favorites, just to give you an idea of how much protein you’re getting and how much more you need. All numbers below are for 3 ounces.
Pros: almost entirely protein, very few carbohydrates and no fat.
Cons: People don’t eat meat for a variety of reasons: health, environmental, moral, etc.
Lean Beef - 36g
Tuna - 29g
Chicken - 16- 28g
Salmon - 25g
Turkey - 23g
Shrimp - 20g
Pros: Easy vegetarian protein source
Cons: Watch for high fat or high sugar, especially in yogurt. Always read the nutrition label.
Cheese - 24g
Cottage Cheese - 10g
Yogurt - 9g
Milk - 3g
Pros: Good way to get protein without eating animal products
Cons: Can be processed or high in sodium. Not everyone enjoys the taste!
Tofu - 17g
Tempeh - 18g
Veggie burgers - 15g
Grains, Beans and Greens
Pros: Pack extra fiber and are good for you in many ways, not just protein!
Cons: High in fats and/or carbohydrates
Oats - 15g
Lentils - 9g
Kidney Beans - 5g
Soy Beans - 13g
Sweet Potato - 4g
Leafy Greens - 5g
Broccoli - 5g
Easy and On the Go
Pros: Easy to grab on the go, for a snack or working lunch.
Cons: Nuts and seeds are high in fat. Whey protien may be difficult to digest for some.
Pumpkin Seeds - 33g
Peanut Butter - 25g
Nuts - 15-22g
Egg - 16g
Whey Protein - 13g
There are pros and cons of each of these, so you must do your research and choose what is most appropriate for you. Unfortunately, most non animal protein sources also pack calories from fat and carbohydrates. This isn't a bad thing, just something to be aware of. What can be an issue, thought, is processed proteins such as tofu, premade veggie burgers, and whey protein. These can pack additives and sodium. Again, just something to be aware of and make your own decisions about. Some of these proteins must be prepared (such as the meats, obviously) and some are easy grab and go. If you’re at work or having a busy day, consider a protein shake, yogurt, hard boiled egg, or a handful of nuts. No excuses!
Be aware of your protein intake and try some of these protein sources. Let us know what new sources you add to your diet!