The Truth About Protein and Why You Need to Eat It

Having a B.S. in Physics with a Biomedical concentration obviously speaks to my belief of science.  I’m very open to new and better ways, but only with sound research and promising results.  I’m not one to necessarily jump on a band wagon every time a new result is promoted (not published) because that is what we also call a trend, or fad, or quick-fix in our industry.

These quick-fixes in the fitness industry cause an awful lot of confusion to newcomers and veterans alike and it takes a solid coach with a great understanding of people (aka listening) to truly help right the ship and get it back on a course of sustainable results.  When you become confused how can you possibly know what to do?  I think Buzz said it best:

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He said something like that…

Without venturing down the rabbit hole of exercise fads and trends, and without prying into the supplementation quick-fix nightmare, I just wanted to simply talk about a macronutrient we know as protein.  You see, protein has been a booming topic in our industry for the last several years and it seems like its growth has reached into the everyday customer because the confusion volcano, deemed “health coaches,” and know-it-alls have been gathering their forces and attacking old, biased knowledge or even making claims based solely on their opinions.

More specifically, people go after protein in regards to the FDA’s recommended intake of 50g of protein per day based on a 2,000 calorie diet.  Or, people are stating that protein is bad for your kidney health.  Or, that protein doesn’t make you healthy.  There’s plenty more, but I think you get the gist of where I’m going with this.

This riff in our industry is at a point where I’d like to clear the air and simplify this as much as possible in the least science-y way possible for the sake of the readers (which simply means I won’t be referring to a specific study throughout the post, BUT I will send out a bunch of published research to anyone who has questions/concerns in an open, honest, non-attacking conversation).

So to begin, if you want to lose fat, look great (the “toned” look), feel satisfied with your meals and curb your appetite, get stronger than you’ve ever been, and start moving and feeling better, then you need to make sure you’re eating enough protein IN CONJUNCTION with a solid resistance training (strength training) program and exercise program.

In bulletproof fashion (sorry, now I have to go make a bulletproof coffee as I write this), here it goes:

  • Protein helps you feel satisfied with your meal and curbs your appetite in between meals so you don’t reach for the extra sweets that someone conveniently brought to work for the 16th day in a row.
    • The easiest comparison I can make to this is the chicken breast vs. the donut. Take a 5 oz chicken breast and your standard glazed donut, both 150 calories.  You could relatively easily slam 2, 3, heck maybe even 5 or 6 donuts and still feel hungry and unsatisfied.  But how many chicken breasts could you eat?  Maybe 2 at most?  And you’d probably feel STUFFED.
    • That’s because the chicken is made primarily of protein while the donut is made primarily of sugar (which is unsatisfying, so to speak). We crave carbs (particularly sugar), there’s no doubt about that, but you we don’t get full off of eating carbs and sugar – we get bored or sick instead.
    • Take-home point: If you think about satiety, maybe we have an “ah-ha” moment when it comes to protein and we think of it like this: our body doesn’t actually become satisfied until it has enough protein.
  • Protein makes you look great because it helps recovery and growth of lean muscle muscle.
    • Muscle is fueled by the right amount of carbs and water, but it is repaired and built by protein. If your goal is to lose weight (lose fat), you need protein.  If your goal is to get strong, you need protein.  If your goal is to “tone up,” you need protein (bonus tip: toning up means burning excess body fat and building lean muscle).  If your goal is to move better, you need protein.  Essentially if your goal is to do anything in life you need protein.  Joking…kind of…
    • Stressed and torn down muscles (stressed and tired from activities like strength training or movement) need protein to create protein synthesis, primarily through activation of the anabolic mTOR pathway that is found in skeletal muscle which helps with repair and growth.
    • Take-home point: To get strong, to boost your self-esteem, to move well, and to look good naked, you need to consume protein.
  • Protein has the greatest thermic effect of food (TEF) which means you can boost your metabolism (burn more calories) by eating more protein.
    • TEF is a scientific term to give us an idea of how hard our body works to break down food. Without going into detail, protein has the highest TEF out of the other foods.  Research shows that roughly 4g of protein is burned off for every 24g of whole-food protein that you consume. Calorically speaking, you burn 16 calories for every 100 calories of whole-food protein you consume.  24g of protein is about 4 oz of protein or 3 large eggs and 1 egg white OR just slightly larger than the size of your palm.
    • Also notice my use of words as I write “whole-food” protein, not supplemental protein. There’s a place true to my heart for supplemental protein, but to get the true effect of TEF, this needs to be whole-food.  Whey protein and other supplements are easily digested, which means your body doesn’t have to work hard if at all to digest the protein.
    • A recent study showed by increasing your daily protein consumption by 15% (the study boosted from 15% to 30% daily intake) while leaving carbs constant, produced a drop of about 450 calories (weekly)…sorry, I had to throw a quick study reference in here.
    • Take-home point: You can literally boost your metabolism by eating more whole-food protein – THIS IS THE EASIEST THING FOR YOU TO HELP WITH FAT LOSS OUTSIDE OF THROWING SOME WEIGHT AROUND.
  • Protein can also boost immunity and brain health.
    • This one isn’t necessarily game-changing, but it’s good for you to know that protein has more effect on your health than just muscles. When you consume protein, your brain releases certain neurotransmitters that produce alertness and activity.
    • Take-home point: Making protein consistent in your diet and meals can help provide your immune system with a better defense against those nasty bugs out there while also telling the brain to give your body some added energy!

Those are the big points to get across.  In case you don’t know what protein is, it’s anything that ever had a face and some dairy products like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs.

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To wrap this post up, these next sentences will be like answers to a rapid-fire Q&A session:

Protein doesn’t show a link to cancer.  Protein won’t make you fat/overweight, eating too much food in general makes you that way.  Eat about 20-25g of protein every meal for females and about 30-40g of protein for males, preferably spaced throughout the day in 4-6 meals which totals about 120g protein/day for females and 150g protein/day for males (to make this possible, try to eat protein in every meal as a habit).   Protein isn’t harmful to your kidneys, BUT if you’ve had previous kidney troubles or only have one kidney, you need to consult with a doctor and an RD on appropriate consumption levels.  For serous gainers, eating at least 1g of protein/ lb of body weight should suffice, but eating more hasn’t shown to be detrimental in any way.  Protein has not been related to increase in blood lipid levels.  If there’s one thing to overeat please let it be protein.  Only use supplements to supplement, not to be the focal point of your diet.

Please consult with your doctor before embarking on any new journey regarding your health and fitness to make sure you’re ready.

The trick is to now get that amount of protein into your daily routine.  It starts with a plan.  Then develops into action that is known as meal prepping followed by execution of the plan.  If you find yourself struggling, that’s where a coach comes into play!  I’d love to help out if you have any questions or concerns, just leave them in the comments below or send me an email!  I hope this post cleared things up for you because that was my mission.

Protein confusion #squashed.

Recipe of the Week: Honey Tequila Lime Chicken Drummies

Enter grilling season!  If you are like us you cannot wait to pull that grill out every year.  Here is a twist on the classic grilled chicken drummies that will help you use up some of that left of tequila from last weeks Cinco de Mayo celebrations.  You did save some left overs, right?!

Serves: 12 DRUMMIES


  • 3 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 12 drumsticks)
  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro + 2 tablespoons (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey


  1. Wash and pat dry the chicken drumsticks
  2. Combine the tequila, lime juice, olive oil, paprika, garlic, and cilantro and pour into a large freezer bag. Add the chicken drumsticks and keep the bag into the refrigerator overnight
  3. Place the drumsticks on the grill over medium/high heat (roughly 400 degrees) and let cook for 10 minutes
  4. As the chicken is cooking, microwave the honey for 10 seconds (if it is in a solid state)
  5. Flip the drumsticks after the 10 minute mark, then brush the honey on the cooked side of the chicken. Let cook an additional 10 minutes then brush honey on the other side of the cooked chicken
  6. Garnish with an additional 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

 Recipe courtesy of Physical Kitchness

Recipe of the Week: Pineapple Ginger Turmeric Protein Smoothie

The perfect warm weather alternative to the Turmeric Latte.  This smoothie is packed with vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory agents PLUS contains the protein you need to stay full and support lean muscle development.  

Serves: 1


  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 scoop protein powder*
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks


  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth, and enjoy!

Recipe of the Week: Sweet Potato Nachos

If you’re anything like a human you most likely love taco anything and everything.  We took it to another level with this week’s Recipe of the Week which comes courtesy of Coach Joe.  It’s the Sweet Potato Nachos!  Make this super easy dish with your favorite protein and taco seasonings and you’ve got yourself and excellent meal for strength training days with the complex carb goodness from the sweet potatoes and black beans plus the benefits of building lean muscle from the lean protein of choice.

Servings: 4

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Cups of shredded cheese
  • 1 lb of lean protein (lean ground beef/chicken/turkey or shredded chicken breast)
  • 1 Can black beans
  • Taco seasonings of choice
  • Veggies of choice (nacho fixings)
  • 8 Tbsp of plain nonfat Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream)
  • 8 Tbsp of salsa (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place parchment paper on baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Place sliced sweet potatoes evenly on parchment paper.  Bake 10 minutes and flip or 20 minutes if you don’t want to flip.  Keep an eye on these as cooking time varies on thickness of the slice.
  2. Cook protein and season how you like it.  Rinse black beans with water.  Once sweet potatoes are cooked, top with your cheese, seasoned protein, and black beans.  Broil for 5 minutes or under cheese is completely melted.
  3. Top with any veggies to your liking.  Use 2 Tbsp of yogurt rather than sour cream and salsa if you desire.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving approximately equals: 437 calories, 13g fat,  39g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, and 41g protein

Recipe of the Week: Baked Veggie & Chicken Scewers

These delicious Baked Veggie and Chicken Skewers are a quick and simple dinner that’s filled with fiber and protein, plus it’s just in time for grilling season! Dinners like this will get you well on your way to transforming your body. Pack the leftovers for a wholesome, fat burning lunch.

Servings: 8

Here’s what you need:

  • 15 bamboo skewers, cut in half
  • 1 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger root
  • 1 lb organic chicken breast tenders, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  1. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for an hour.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, except the bell peppers, in large ziplock bag. Marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Thread the chicken pieces, alternating with bell pepper pieces, on the skewers. Line on a lightly greased pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked through.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 103 calories, 2g fat, 130mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, and 14g protein