Who has it?
Probably not you. But, I’m almost certain at some point in your efforts to be healthier you might have thought, “I need to get more protein.”
I’m going to be honest with you. You’re probably eating more protein than you need. Why? How? Well, everything on the planet has protein in it. For the average person, a balanced diet is the best way to meet (or even exceed) your daily protein needs. Protein is special, because unlike carbohydrates or fats, the body can’t store protein as protein. That mean’s getting enough on a daily basis is pretty important.
When we eat protein, a few things happen:
- It helps us build healthy bones and muscles; proteins are the building blocks for healthy cells.
- It promotes feelings of satiety, or fullness.
- It can help you limit your intake of overly processed carbs
- In some scenarios, it can help you achieve short term weight loss goals
Let’s focus on an important piece of information about protein that I mentioned above: you can’t store it. You need to eat it daily. In other words, when you don’t use up the protein you eat for energy, your body isn’t going to store it as protein. Loading up on protein will not make you skinnier if you’re eating more than your body needs. When you don’t use the protein you consume for energy, the amino acids that make up the protein are converted to glucose (sugar) via a process known as gluconeogenesis. The glucose is then stored, leading to weight gain.
This calculator can help you figure out exactly how much protein you need daily. Let’s look at a sample menu for a 30 year old woman, who weighs approximately 145lbs, is 5ft 4in, leads an active lifestyle and doesn’t have a restricted diet. She needs approximately 53 grams of protein daily.
Breakfast: 2 eggs with cooked spinach (12 grams)
Lunch: 1/2 cup of miso tofu over baby greens with 1/2 cup of cottage cheese (21 grams)
Dinner: 1/2 cup of black beans, 3.5oz chili lime chicken and roasted broccoli (31 grams)
Snacks: 1/4 cup almonds (8 grams) or 2tbsp peanut butter and crackers (8 grams)
Total for 3 meals + 1 snack: 72 grams
Keep in mind, protein deficiency is a real and diagnosable medical condition. If you feel you have a medical issue, consult your doctor, not a blog.
Your Turn: What are your favorite sources of protein? Have you ever thought you needed to boost your intake, and why?