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Be a Pro(or Bro) with Protein

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You know you have to eat it.  You see people in the gym mixing it in their shaker cups.  But what is protein and why do you need it?

First and foremost, protein is a macronutrient.  Macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) are the building blocks of food.  Each macronutrient provides our body with energy & nutrients, and supports body functions.  All food, no matter how big or small, is made up of macronutrients.  

Why do I need it?

Protein is hands down the hardest macronutrient to eat consistently in the right quantity.  This is especially hard if you tend to buy most of your meals.  Restaurants typically skimp on protein, as it is more expensive than its carb and fat counterparts.  Without enough protein, your body can not maintain or build lean muscle.  Even if you eat the right amount of calories, not consuming the right amount of protein can negatively affect your performance at the gym, your energy, your focus, and muscle soreness.

Protein is responsible for many things in our body, but most importantly, it is the foundation of building muscle.  Without protein, you can not recover properly in between workouts or build lean muscle mass.  When you begin exercising at a high intensity, protein is essential to:

  • Reduce muscle soreness
  • Reduce cravings
  • Build lean muscle mass
  • Burn fat

Whole-food sources such as high quality beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, eggs, and legumes are an excellent way to meet your protein requirements.  

How much should I eat and how do I measure it?

As a rule of thumb, you should be eating about 80-85% of your bodyweight in grams.  For example, if you weigh 200 lbs, you should be eating roughly 160g-170g of protein per day. (200*80% = 160 and 200*85% = 170g).

Measuring protein can be done by simply purchasing a food scale.  They are available on Amazon or any store that sells kitchen tools.  They are very easy to use and cost less than $20.  Using a scale is hands down the most accurate way to measure protein.

In absence of a scale, we have created multiple eyeball measurements to help.  A deck of cards or an iPhone are both easy ways to help measure animal proteins.  When measuring fish protein, a checkbook is more accurate.  Below are three picture references.

fish-portion-size-checkbook

3 ounces of Fish
chicken-portion-deck-of-cards

3 ounces of Chicken

chicken-proportions

2, 4, and 8 ounces of chicken measured against an iPhone

How do you know if you are not eating enough protein?

Not eating enough protein can show itself in many ways.  These are the most common:

  1. Constant food cravings
  2. Constantly being bloated
  3. Constantly being sick
  4. Brain fog
  5. Feeling sore constantly

How do you fix it?

Protein should be included in as many meals as possible.  If that is not possible because of your schedule, then make sure to be eating more protein when it is easiest.  For example, I eat roughly 40% of my daily protein in the morning with breakfast.  I do this because it works best for my body, but this is not necessarily true for everyone.  Here are 4 different examples of ways you can spread your protein consumption.  None of these are right or wrong, they just work for different people.  

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner
25% 25% 25% 25%
30% 20% 10% 40%
40% 20% 0% 40%
50% 20% 10% 30%

When should I use protein powder?

Any and all supplements are just tools (I’ll expand on this shortly).  They are tools to help you do one of two following things:

  1. Eat the right amount of protein, carbs, and fat each day when you can not eat it through your normal meals.  
  2. If a powder or liquid is more effective than food at a specific time (i.e. post workout)

That’s it.  

This is going to look a little different for everyone. Some should be using supplements more than others depending on your schedule, preference, and habits.  

Now remember, supplement companies (including mine) are a business.  They will make claims like:

  • “Build and rejuvenate cell growth”
  • “Improve metabolism 40%”
  • “More Energy, Less bloating”

By reading these claims, it makes you think that supplements are some magic potion.  But let me stop you right there.  Supplements are not a magic bullet.  

Supplements are meant to… supplement.  Eat first, supplement second.  Protein from food first, protein powder second. Greens from vegetables first, green powder from a jar second.  

Eating is always preferable to supplementation with the exception of post workout.  This is the only time supplements are more effective than food because of how quickly protein powder can digest.

If you have never used supplements before, start by using a post-workout protein.  Using a Whey protein is best and can be mixed with water or a carbohydrate such as coconut water, orange juice, or Gatorade.  At CFJC, we carry and recommend Strengthlete Repair.   Repair is a very high quality Whey protein that digests very quickly and will start repairing your muscles right after a workout and help reduce muscle soreness.  

At any other time of the the day, eating is preferable.  If you are on the go and unable to eat a meal, a blended protein is best.  When different types of protein are blended together, they create a natural time release, so your body has enough time to digest and absorb the protein in your shake.  Strengthlete Complete is our product of choice and can be used at anytime during the day.

Both products are available at the front desk of the gym.  

Other Important Stuff about Protein

  1. Every gram of protein provides 4 calories of energy.  
  2. Egg Whites are 92% protein, making them the most protein dense food.
  3. Tuna, shrimp, chicken breast, and turkey breast are all extremely dense in protein, with a caloric density of 80% or greater.
  4. The digestion of protein takes longer than other macronutrients, taking as long as 3-4 hours to breakdown.  For this reason, a meal rich in protein will typically keep you feeling full longer.

If you are struggling to understand how to apply all of this information to your own goals, I can help you develop a custom plan that will be tailored specific to your body, your goals, and your schedule and lifestyle.  All you need to do is complete the assessment questionnaire.  

This will help me learn a little about where you are and what’s slowing you down, where you’d like to go, and how I can help you get there.  Once you complete the questionnaire, I will be in touch to discuss your answers and decide what to do next.

In the meantime, stayed tuned for our next article where I will teach you the good, bad, and evil on carbs.