Weekly Food for Thought
Protein: How to hit your targets and prioritize whole foods
We’ve been diving into one of our favorite nutrition topics the past few weeks- protein consumption. This week we want to wrap it up with some tips on hitting your targets and how to select the best sources of protein.
As a reminder, we recommend a target of .7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, your target would be roughly 105 grams/day. While this may seem like a large number, if you plan your day right, you can easily hit your targets.
The biggest shift we see most of our new nutrition clients make is learning to prioritize protein in every meal. We see a lot of clients who are surprised to see how low their protein consumption is, but when we look at their meals, it’s quite often that a true serving of protein isn’t consumed until dinner time. This is the downfall of skipping breakfast and snacking throughout the day. For this reason, the best place to start and our biggest tip to hitting your targets is….
- Prioritize protein with breakfast.
If you can start your day with a serving of protein (20-30g) you are setting yourself up for massive success. Not only have you hacked away at your daily target, you are also fueling your body for the day ahead. Remember, protein helps satiate appetites and rebuild muscle. If you have had the experience of eating a carb centric breakfast only to be starving before lunch, adding a serving of protein to your plate may have made a big difference in keeping you fuller, longer and more focused on the task at hand.
Tip: to easily measure a serving of protein, you can use the palm of your hand.
- Develop an understanding of optimal protein sources.
So breakfast and protein go hand in hand, now what? Does slathering peanut butter on a waffle count? What if I add a couple eggs to that plate?
Well, it’s a start. But it’s important to understand that not all protein sources are created equally. Food groups like nuts are mistakingly often thought to be high in protein, but are much higher in fats than protein itself, making it not a supportive option. Even food items like eggs are lower in protein than many people think (7g/egg). Choosing lean sources of protein are the best way to go. Foods like chicken, lean beef, white fish, egg whites, cottage cheese, tofu, plain greek yogurt and bean/legumes for our plant based friends are primarily protein based.
Here are some quick examples of typical serving sizes:
1 cup greek yogurt- 17g
4 oz chicken breast- 35 g
4 oz lean beef (85/15)- 29 g
4 oz tofu- 9g
4 oz tilapia- 30g
1/2 cup cottage cheese- 13g
We recommend a serving of protein (20-30g) with every meal. Ideally, we want to see people consuming 30-50g with every meal, but we understand this can be difficult for some people to do. This is where adding a high-quality protein powder will help cover the gap. We want to make it clear that whole foods over protein powder is always preferred. If you are consuming more than one protein shake per day, we would recommend adjusting your meals to prioritize more whole foods. Shakes are more of a supplement. They can be a wonderful tool to upping your intake, but stay focused on healthier ways to sneak more whole foods in your daily meals. Your body will thank you for it.
We love talking about protein, and we love working with nutrition clients! We see a lot of stigma around nutrition coaching in general, and while we recognize the harm that has been created from diet-culture, we believe equipping people with knowledge is the best way to empower them to break free from these harmful cycles. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out! We have some low-cost options designed to help you towards your long-term goals of health and longevity.