We have a secret weapon for firing up your workouts, sliming down and keeping you on track on your total wellness journey. The powerful weapon we’re talking about is protein.
I used to think that protein – especially protein shakes and bars — were only for weight lifters, body builders and people who work out rigorously to build major muscle mass. Alas my friends, that’s not the case. Protein is for everyone. It has so many pluses. And it’s more plentiful in our body than any material besides water so it’s important to understand how it works, its benefits, how much you need and where you can find great sources of it.
How Protein Works
Did you know that protein is a string of amino acids and is one of the three main macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and fat that we absolutely need in our diet? Again I’ll mention that it’s more plentiful in our body than any material besides water. Bottom line: without protein you couldn’t function. Your muscles, bones, blood, skin, hair, nails and brain cells all rely on protein, primarily to build, maintain and repair tissues. Proteins’ amino acids are considered the building blocks of your body.
The Benefits of Protein
Protein can help you lose weight and build muscle. On the weight loss side, it helps you burn fat, keeps you feeling satisfied and helps reduce your carb cravings. In other words, its excellent for boosting your metabolism and suppressing your appetite. One the muscle building side, protein works hand in hand with activity. Summer for many also means being more active outdoors with runs, walks, hikes, lawn bowling, softball, yoga and pool time. For me, it means training and preparing for one of the longest hikes I have done in ages through the Andes mountains in Peru at the end of this month. Whatever your activities, matching your protein to support your them is critical to keep the body fueled, fired up and replenished with the right nutrients to keep it operating efficiently and effectively.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
Getting enough protein to support your body size and lifestyle is important, but you don’t need to overload. Too much protein can be hard on your kidneys, so it’s important to find a quality balance in your intake of protein. The average intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. To determine your RDA for protein, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
Example if your current weight is 150, it’s measured like this:
150 x.39 = 58.5 grams of protein you need daily
This equates to anywhere between .54-.82 grams of protein per day for every pound you weigh. If you are over 65, you need more because extra protein in the diet over the age of 65 can help you maintain and improve muscle mass, strength and function.If you are doing extra strength training or endurance training, you would increase that protein intake as well.
Where Can I Find Protein?
Your body doesn’t actually store protein and it doesn’t produce all that it needs. Therefore, it’s essential to supply those missing amino acids from your diet. Aim for protein sources low in saturated fat and processed carbohydrates and rich in many nutrients. You can find protein in foods like meats, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, beans, vegetables. It’s important to avoid proteins that do more harm than good like fried and processed meats.
I make sure I have protein at every meal, but I’m not necessarily tracking the amount of protein I consume daily in my foods to the gram. That’s why I love the convenience, time savings and healthy options backed by research at my fingertips. By eating healthy foods and supplementing with proteins from the Vitality line from protein powder to bars I can an affordable, consistent plan I can stick to to see results.
I’ve done my research and want to caution you to be careful as not all protein powders are created equal. Many are packed with added fillers, unnecessary sugars and additives that do nothing for the body. Plus, they can cost a pretty penny. Most higher quality ones on the market cost between $3.00 – $4.50 a serving. I recommend a pure, clean protein source that is whey and casein based to absorb quickly within the body. At our favorite online wellness store, the protein is between $1.20 – 1.60 a serving depending on which selection of protein you choose. ProFlex has 20 grams of protein per serving for those light to moderately active people; Ultra Performance Protein is for those who want to step up their activity or maintain a higher level. The Select line supports those with special dietary needs and offers a variety of bars, shakes and snacks packed with protein.
Whether you are looking to fire up your workouts this summer, shed a few pounds or just shift your diet to some healthier alternatives, don’t forget the power packed punch of protein! Remember, you can and should have access to quality protein foods and supplements at home and on the go. Calculate your daily required intake, make a plan to incorporate and measure, shop online and be consistent. We’d love to hear how you’ve stepped it up and the results you achieved!