Words by Fatima Lee Garsi
Remember that song?
Protein, protein, the musical fruit,
the more you eat, the more you toot!
The more you toot, the better you feel,
so eat protein with every meal!
Okay, okay. I admit that I clearly changed the original lyrics, which were about beans. I feel slightly embarrassed about the message of toots too, but I want to encourage you to make your own protein anthem. Protein deserves it.
Because protein is the hottest nutrient out there. Protein is so sexy, people make chicken shakes in their blender. Protein is heroin to bodybuilders. Your muscles need protein to repair themselves and grow stronger.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how protein has been marketed and incorporated more and more into food products. Even McDonald’s sells protein shakes now! Does that mean protein is just another hyped up health and fitness gimmick? NOT THIS TIME!
Protein: Living Up to the Hype!
The hype is real, and the thing is, your body cannot store protein like it does with other nutrients. Carbs? You can hoard them for a few days until your body will go into a state of ketosis. Fat? We all know that our body can convert extra energy into fat, and yes, your body can also store fat as a nutrient for several days.
But protein? The BERMUDA TRIANGLE of macronutrients!
Here’s a visual to help you see how protein behaves in your body: I’m sure you’ve filled up your sink with hot soapy water to wash the dishes. The hot soapy water is protein in your system. Unplug the sink and watch how quickly the water goes down the drain. That my friends, is how protein is stored. It’s NOT! You need to have the tap on to constantly replenish the water in the sink to do your darn dishes!
Don’t yell at me about how people can live off the land, eat kale, and be healthy. I’m not talking about surviving. I’m serving you a dish of strength and fitness!
So, if you want to release your own super-human strength, you need to eat protein – and lots of it!
What foods would be classified as high protein foods?
Glad you asked. Let’s look at the chart below:
CHEESE (LOW FAT)
VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER
WHEY PROTEIN POWDER
Now let’s say you’re 150lbs and want to gain 5lbs of muscle. You’re going to need to consume at least your desired body weight in grams of protein! Some say more, but let’s just say you’ll need 155 grams of protein every day.
How do you (realistically) go about doing this?
Get some help. Download the My Fitness Pal app, log your foods for a week, and see how many grams of protein you are eating every day. I’ll be surprised if you get 100 grams!
Even if you wanted to lose body fat – let’s say 5 lbs – guess what? The amount of protein here will look very similar. You could still lose weight if you are in a caloric deficit. But, if you want to get leaner, have MUSCLES, and stay fuller so you don’t overeat, eat that protein.
Protein in Action
Protein is a natural thermogenic for your body. It takes work to digest and process. Think of it as getting a discount for your calories. For example, say you ate 200 calories of chicken breast. You may absorb only 150 calories due to the thermogenic response your body needs to process it. It’s also slow to break down in your intestines so, as I mentioned earlier, it keeps you full for a little while!
Now eat a piece of chocolate cake. Let’s say it’s 400 calories. Guess what? It’s probably OVER 400 calories because 1) the calorie count on processed foods have large errors of margin 2) there’s NO discount! The cake will start being digested as soon as it hits your lips and you will probably feel hungry shortly after.
I am not discouraging you from eating cake – simply encouraging you to eat all your protein FIRST.
Here are some high protein foods aside from meats that I enjoy:
Low-fat swiss cheese
Kidney beans + black beans
Joyya high-protein skim milk