So, you've start lifting weights or going to the gym. Yay. Maybe you've even started following fitness accounts on social media or have found your fav health and wellness podcast. Amazing. No matter how you are consuming your fitness content, you've probably been introduced, or inundated, with importance of protein.
Protein. Protein. PROTEIN.
Protein this. Protein that. You gotta get your PROTEEEEEIIIIN.
Now, after learning a bit about protein, you may think in order to increase how much you eat, you'll have to start eating pounds on pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast to achieve your fitness goals.
I’m here to show you a better way. Especially for when you're busy. AF.
Unless pounds of chicken breast is your jam. Then you go, Glen Cocoa.
First, a quick but important summary of the basics. Foods you eat fall into three categories of macronutrients. These macronutrients or “macros” are protein, fat, and/or carbohydrates. Each of these gives you what your body what it needs to function and perform properly. Protein works to repair and build back our muscles as you live our life while also acting as a fuel source for the bod.
So. Which foods are high in protein and exactly how do you eat more protein?
The first step to eating more protein is to figure out how much you should be eating based on your body, your lifestyle and your #goals.
There are many calculators and formulas out there that claim they can deliver your perfect macronutrient split. Some work. Some don’t. So, here’s a very simple formula to estimate your protein intake.
A good range you can work in is between .7g-1g per pound of your body weight.
So, let’s say you are 160lbs…
160 x .7 = 112
160 x 1 = 160
Your goal range is between 112g-160g or protein.
Cool, so you know how much to eat. Now, here are some tips and tricks to increase and maintain your protein intake while maintaining a jam packed schedule. Maybe you are an actor and currently live in a hotel room with a 5x5 mini fridge. Perhaps you are a flight attendant with a topsy turvy schedule. These tips are helpful for everyone, but can come in handy for you if you identify as someone who is "busy AF".
Make a "Big Ass Salad" or smoothie
If you’re struggling to feel full while trying to track your food intake, or you simply would like to incorporate more fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and of course *protein* into your life, you really need to get on board with having a “Big Ass Salad” and/or a smoothie daily.
Salads and smoothies are a great way to pack in the protein while also getting in your important micronutrients (aka vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies). Plus, they take minimal effort to prepare.
TRY IT: Add your prepped smoothie greens and fruit to a bag and freeze, then throw in some greek yogurt (my fav is Oikos Pro) and blend. You can buy already frozen greens and fruit for some prep support. Add rotisserie chicken or canned tuna to your "Big Ass Salad" at lunch for an instant 20-30 grams. You can chop up veggies at the start of the week for your "BAS", or splurge and buy them already prepared because as I said sometimes you need the support and that's OKAY. "TOO BUSY" HOT TIP: Order double meat on your Chipotle bowl in a pinch for double the protein goodness.
Prioritize protein at every meal
Protein helps keep us full, so it should be the star of the show, the main event, the Gran Formage! at most meals. Try to fill up your plate with protein first, then accessorize with some veggies, carbs, and fats. If you don’t have time to be marinating and grilling day in and day out, finding quick, affordable, delicious protein main dishes are a must. My favs are below.
TRY IT: Weigh your meat raw or cooked. It doesn't matter which one, just stay consistent. Cooking not your thing? Check out the prepared and frozen food sections of Trader Joes or your supermarket equivalent. Trader Joes is prime when it comes to this though, trust. If you’re vegetarian, Banza pasta is a great high protein option that tastes yummy and won’t break the bank. You’ll find that in the pasta aisle. "TOO BUSY" HOT TIP: Check out the hot bar or deli section of the grocery store, where you can find hot meats like rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, ribs, and other ready to go options to pair with it.
Don't be afraid to supplement
The best brands give me the mild ick. The worst can taste like ass. However, protein powder takes zero prep and is basically inevitable. Sigh. You may not love it (Ok, maybe it's just me?) but you kinda need it. When looking at your daily intake (remember the math you did?!), bars and shakes can be the difference between hitting your target or not.
TRY IT: My go to protein bar brands are ONE, Quest, and Power Crunch. The latter are a little less protein, a lil higher fat, resemble a wafer cookie, and are what dreams are made of. You must try them. I also tend to fork over a little extra money to go for pre mixed protein like these Premier and Fairlife shakes. "TOO BUSY" HOT TIP: Add the premixed protein to your iced coffee for a protein/caffeination romance and thank me later (check out my recipe HERE). PS. If I must do use a powder, my go to choice is PE Science brand.
Now you know how much protein you should be eating, and different ways to increase your daily intake while also living your life on the grind and on the go. No matter what your goals are, consuming enough protein will help with your workout performance and muscle retention, which is not just about looking good and getting swol, but feeling good too.
You got this.