Protein. It’s a big topic of discussion lately and it should be! It’s so important for your overall health, and longevity (living a long and healthy life). We’ve had a lot of clients ask us questions on protein intake, so we thought we’d take some time to answer some of the more common questions we hear.
How much protein should I be having?
Protein needs vary greatly based on your age, gender, activity level, and medical history but the recommended daily amount can be anywhere from 10-35% of your caloric intake. Your average adult who is mostly sedentary need around 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. However, did you know that muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60? Check out the full article here. Yikes!! So, if you’re looking to increase your muscle mass (which we all should be doing especially as we age!) you’ll want to increase your protein intake to 1.2 - 1.7g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This equates to 0.5 - 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight.
What is complete vs. incomplete protein?
There are 20 amino acids your body needs to function properly. Our bodies naturally produce 11 of them so we don’t need to worry about getting them from our diet. These are called, nonessential amino acids. The other 9 need to come from our diet, in which these are called essential amino acids. Complete proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids, incomplete proteins have some, but not all.
Sources of complete Proteins:
Whole sources of soy (like tofu, edamame, tempeh and miso).
Sources of Incomplete Proteins
Legumes (beans, peas, lentils).
Mix and match these healthy sources of protein for a satiating and healthy meal!
Chicken breast with mixed greens, beans, colorful vegetables, avocado and an oil based dressing.
Here you have a great mix of complete proteins (chicken), healthy carbohydrates (from beans, and veggies) and healthy fats (dressing and avocado)
What are some good protein-packed snacks?
We suggest thinking of your snacks as “mini meals” and ensuring there is protein in each of your meals throughout the day. Some of our favorite protein-packed snacks include:
Plain Greek yogurt or Cottage Cheese with berries and nuts (unsalted, preferably raw or sprouted)
Hard-boiled egg with avocado and celery (mash it up like an egg salad)
Tuna with avocado and celery (mash it up like tuna salad)
Smoothie with greens and protein powder (we like Naked Nutrition brand)
Apple with peanut butter (or other nut butter)
Veggie sticks with hummus
Mixed nuts with a piece of fruit (watch your portions with the nuts!)
How does protein help with weight loss?
Protein, especially animal protein, is harder for the body to digest than carbohydrates and fat so it uses more calories to break it down and digest it. This is called the Thermic Effect on Food (TEF). Eating more protein also helps your body store less body fat because protein is harder to store as fat than carbohydrates and fat. Protein is also satiating so you will naturally eat less, but stay full longer. Eating more protein can also help prevent muscle loss as you lose weight.
What about protein powder?
Protein powder is a great way to add protein to any meal/snack. We love adding protein powder to our smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods! Choose a protein powder with minimal ingredients and low sugar. Whey protein has the most protein per serving and is best for those looking to gain muscle, but it also contains lactose so if you’re sensitive to dairy products this may upset your stomach. Below is a list of the different types of protein powders. What do we use? We like Naked Nutrition brand!
Choose what’s right for you
We hope this helps clear up a few of those protein myths as well as answer some of your questions with regards to protein! Please reach out to us with any more questions - we "geek out" on this stuff so it's fun!