Boost Your Health by Understanding How to Get the Protein You Need

Protein plays an important role in your health and weight loss plans. However, can you get too much of a good thing? Find out how much protein you really need and the best ways to meet your nutritional needs.


Facts About Protein

  1. Follow the recommended guidelines. Along with carbohydrates and fats, proteins are an essential macronutrient. Unlike carbohydrates, you must have protein to live. Most people get their protein from animal products; vegetarians get their protein from plant sources. In my opinion, plant sources are in inferior form of protein. So, what are the recommended guidelines? The Federal food guidelines recommend 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams per women. I am highly skeptical of that number. We are in an obesity crisis and Federal guidelines are part of what got us there. That's my opinion.  For the athletes who work out with me, I usually recommend more than the Federal guidelines. I usually ask people to consume between 0.5 - 0.75 grams per day per pound of bodyweight. It depends on the athlete's goals and body type. I've learned that everyone's body responds differently. It's trial and error most of the time.

  2. Avoid excess consumption. Yes. You can eat too much protein. Every has an upper limit for how much protein their body can synthesize in a given time period. But, we don't know what that number is. It's most likely different for each individual. Once again, the Federal government and some physicians will tell you to cut back on the protein, especially from animal sources. Their concern is the triglycerides and LDL cholesterol particles. This is a concern, but if you are already dying from metabolic syndrome, drastic action must be taken. What happens to the excess protein? It is converted into energy, basically sugar for the body to use or store as fat. If your kidneys are normally functioning, they will have no problem processing the amount of protein I recommend. But if you have kidney disease or any other malfunction of the kidneys, then there may be a problem and your protein intake should be reduced. Disclaimer: If your doctor has specifically warned you about protein intake, of course, follow that advice. But take generic protein guidelines with a grain of salt. They may not apply to your specific situation. 

  3. Understand the thermic advantage. One reason protein makes dieting easier is because its digestion burns the most calories. That mans that you burn more calories from digesting meat than you burn from digesting other food. Your body has to work harder to digest meat and this burns more calories. So, if you are trying to lose weight, you can actually burn more calories by eating more!! I call that a win/win!!

Eating to Meet General Protein Needs


  1. Drink plenty of water. Protein digestion creates uric acid and other waste products. Extra water helps protect your kidneys by making them filter better.

  2. Space out your intake. Your body can only process so much protein at a time. I suggest some protein at each and every meal. 

  3. Have protein for breakfast. I recommend intermittent fasting for most of my clients. So, on your first meal of the day, make sure you have some protein. Waffles, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, all have minimal trace amounts of protein. . You’ll rev up your metabolism and feel less hungry later by including protein at that first meal. 

  4. Eat more fish. Fish is one of the best sources of lean protein. It also has important antioxidants.

  5. Enjoy eggs. Most healthy adults can safely eat up to one egg a day. They’re nutritious and cheap. Egg whites are an excellent option to boost the protein level of your eggs without the cholesterol.

  6. Choose the right dairy products. Low fat and no fat dairy products deliver protein protein without the extra saturated fat.  Don't forget cottage cheese!! I know it's an acquired taste, but it is high protein.

  7. Limit high fat meat. Many experts recommend eating red meat twice a week or less. Shop for lean cuts or toss chunks of white chicken into a salad.

  8. Switch to beans and lentils. Beans and lentils are good for you and your wallet. They’re cheap as well as packed with protein and fiber. Whip up a bowl of chili or a delicious homemade soup. 

  9. Read the labels. Marketers know that “protein” is a popular buzzword that sells. Check the labels on protein bars and other products for added sugars and chemicals you may want to avoid. Fill your plate with natural, whole foods as much as possible.

Eating to Meet Special Protein Needs


  1. Jumpstart your weight loss diet. In addition to the thermic effects of protein, it’s very effective at promoting satiety. That means you can manage your appetite better and feel comfortable while eating less. Aim to get about 30% of your total calories from protein, 30% from fat, and 40% from carbohydrates. Please note that everyone is different. You may not be able to tolerate that many carbs. So, your percentages may be different. Track your intake and experiment with different ratios. 

  2. Build muscles. Moderate exercise has little effect on your dietary requirements. If you want to use protein supplements, consider fast-absorbing products such as whey powder.

  3. Going vegetarian. You can get all the protein you need without animal products. Good protein sources include beans, lentils, and soy products. Recent research shows your body will combine nutrients you eat throughout the day. I wouldn't recommend this as a first option, but I know some people choose this route for religious or moral reasons. 

  4. Have a healthy baby. One life event does dramatically increase your protein needs. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need more protein. Talk with your doctor about your individual concerns.

It’s smart to eat protein frequently, as long as you’re not consuming too much. Getting your protein from good quality sources will give you the energy you need and make losing weight easier.

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