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:
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.
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.