Let's talk protein.
Now let me start by telling you a few things that I know. I know that protein is a MUST HAVE part of the diet. I know how important of a role it plays in building muscle. I know I eat a lot of it. Well....actually that is exactly what this post is about. How much protein do I eat?
I've known for what seems like forever how important protein is, especially for someone that is active, likes working out, and especially likes lifting weights like myself. That said, kind of like drinking water, I think it's easy for us to sometimes THINK that we eat a lot...or enough protein in our daily diet...but in reality, many times that isn't the case.
Lately, I've been at a bit of a plateau. 😑 Not seeing much definition in my muscles....pretty stagnant in the way my body looks overall....feeling a lot more bloated lately for some reason 😒 So basically just kinda feeling blah and wondering what I should do to dig myself out of the slump. 🤔
Then I started thinking more about my diet. As many of you know, that's what I've tried to start really paying attention to over the last year or so is focusing on my eating. Working out and being active have been a natural thing for me for so long but eating well and trying to make healthier choices was a newer focus.
As I reflected on the past month or so, I couldn't put my finger on anything in particular necessarily that would have me feeling the blah/plateau feeling I was feeling....although I will admit that I have been traveling a ton for work lately and under a bit more stress than normal, but that's a story for another day.
I started thinking about what I eat on a daily basis which led me to this thought..."I wonder if I'm eating enough protein each day?" I've never really been one to count marcos or calories even...mostly because it seemed confusing to me to count macros and I didn't want to put that much effort into eating. BUT...I decided to do a little research.
I wanted to first figure out how much protein I SHOULD be eating each day.
STEP ONE: Figure out what my daily caloric intake should be....I knew what I typically shot for each day but I found this great calculator (click here) that you can use to figure out what your daily calorie intake should be based on whether you want to "gain muscle" "lose fat" or "maintain your weight"
STEP TWO: Break down the micronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) for your goal amount into target grams per day.
To do this, you'll probably want to open up the handy dandy calculator app on your phone. First, take a look at the below and decide what category you fall into:
GET TONED: Carbs 40% - Protein 40% - Fat 20%
MAINTAIN WEIGHT: Carbs 35% - Protein 35% - Fat 30%
LOSE FAT: Carbs 30% - Protein 40% - Fat 30%
STEP THREE: Once you pick your category on what you are trying to accomplish, now you'll need to calculate how many grams of the above micronutrients you need to be eating each day. I'll give you an example of how to do this.
The below stats will come in handy in a moment:
- 1 gram of fat is 9 calories
- 1 gram of protein is 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrates is 4 calories
Now for our example. Let's say you determined that your daily caloric intake should be 2000 calories per day. Let's also say you decided you wanted to "get toned". That means, based on the above category, that in order to get toned you need to get 40% of your calories in carbs, 40% in protein, and 20% in fat.
In order to convert the calories to grams to understand how many grams of each you should be eating, follow the below equation on your calculator:
40% Carbs = 2000 (calories) x .4/4 = 200grams
40% Protein = 2000 x .4/4 = 200 grams
20% Fat = 2000 x .2/9 = 44.4 grams
And that's how you figure out how many grams of each you should be eating daily. For me, this exercise BLEW MY MIND. My number for the amount of protein I should be eating daily is 170g 😮 I don't know about you, but that seems like a TON!! I know I'm not getting anywhere near that. If I'm being honest, 80-90g is probably a really good day, but average currently is probably closer to 60-70g.
So......what I've decided to do, is to commit to 1 month of counting my macros, and committing to getting my 170g of protein in daily and see what happens. I want to understand how getting what is supposed to be the right amount of protein in my body each day will do for me. How will it make me feel? How will it make me look? Will i be stronger? See more muscle definition? Lose fat or inches? Who knows?? But I can't wait to see!! 😁
So today was day 1....It's about 8:15 right now as I lay in bed writing this. I managed to get the 170g of protein in today but it was definitely a challenge. It is something that you have to consciously think about and make a focused effort to do. Part of the reason I felt like it was hard today was because the protein was keeping me full so I wasn't really hungry but I knew I needed to eat in order to make it the 170.....good problem to have I suppose but in this case, a problem none the less.
What I have decided to do is break it up into chunks so it's easier for me to think about getting all of this protein in in a day. What I came up with is the below:
- 36.5g of protein at each meal - breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- 12g of protein in each of 3 daily snacks
- 24g of protein in nightly casein protein shake
(casein is a type of protein that is SLOWLY digested vs quickly digested like most proteins powders. This is a great type of protein to take at night because it keeps the body full as it slowly digests but it also aids in muscle recovery overnight which helps reduce soreness and build muscle back up more quickly).
It's just easier for me to have a clear path and plan on how to get to my goal of 170 and be able to track it throughout the day rather than just wing and hope I get there.
Speaking of tracking - I use the My Fitness Pal app to track all of this good stuff. You can even track your custom macro goals with the free version 👍🏼
So....I know that was a lot of information but I hope that you girls enjoyed it. I'll be updating you guys via instagram on how this process goes for me over the next 30 days.....I'll try to document high protein snacks and meals that I find as well as any changes that I feel like I'm seeing by focusing on my protein intake. Can't wait to see how it unfolds!! If you don't already, follow me on Instagram for all of the updates!