How Much Protein Do I REALLY Need and Why?
Jess here (YHB' s health coach & founder of @bodyblissbyjess)!
I wanted to pop in to share an important PSA: protein is an essential macronutrient that the MAJORITY of women we work with aren't getting enough of! So WHY is protein important and how do you know if you're consuming the optimal amount?
Let's start with the WHY:
1. Certain hormones are derived from amino acids (aka protein), so this macro plays a MAJOR role in our thyroid and gut health as well as menstrual cycles, mood, weight and muscle mass. When tracking protein, we want to be mindful about getting enough complete proteins which contain all 9 essential amino acids that the body can't make on its own!
2. Protein provides the liver with the amino acids it needs to do it's crucial job of detoxing the body (the body's #1 filtration system)! We NEED the liver to push out excess estrogen and toxins (i.e. alcohol, prescription drugs, pesticides, chemicals etc.) so that they don't recirculate in the body and wreak havoc on our hormones and quality of life.
3. Protein supports weight loss and muscle growth. Protein keeps us fuller for much longer so we avoid cravings and hanger that can lead to overeating. If you find yourself thinking about food 24/7, you might consider increasing protein. If you are intentionally losing weight and not eating enough protein, you will lose muscle and fat which slows down metabolic rate. When lifting weights or working out, we MUST be consuming enough protein to support muscle growth and maintenance. Bottom line: the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn. You need protein to fuel your workouts and to get results!
4. Our protein needs change with age. Women of reproductive age should be mindful of getting enough protein during their period week when hormone levels are at their lowest and protein provides the body with the amino acids it needs to make hormones. As you age and go through menopause, protein becomes even more important for boosting immune system, repairing and strengthening muscles, and keeping your bones strong and healthy!
How do you know if you're consuming optimal amounts?
1. A general rule of thumb is to strive for about .8 grams- 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. That means a 150LB woman would aim for at least 120 grams per day or 40 grams per meal. Keep in mind needs may vary based on personal preference, cycle phases, age and activity level. If you think you get enough protein, remember 1 egg is only 6 grams of protein while 4oz of tofu is 9 grams and 4oz of cooked chicken is 35 grams!
2. Gradually increase your intake vs. going 0 to 60! I would suggest tracking your protein consumption for one week to see how much you are actually getting per day (it will likely surprise you)! If you're on the low end, start to gradually increase it and take note of how you feel. Bio-markers to track: satiety, cravings, energy levels, PMS symptoms, sleep quality, energy and performance levels in the gym.
Want help remembering the cliff notes? Save THIS reel to your IG collections!
Quick Tips for Hitting Your Protein Goals:
1. Get familiar with complete proteins containing all 9 essential amino acids! Here's a list to help you get started + ways to combine proteins to make them complete (very helpful for vegetarian and vegans). Complementary proteins don't necessarily need to be eaten together, but they should be eaten throughout a day's meals.
Note: collagen is not a complete protein so I'd recommend going for a plant-based protein like LSF Nutrition (use code BODYBLISS15 for 15% off) and complement it with a scoop or two of collagen for the gut healing, skin, hair and nail health benefits! Great Lakes is my favorite collagen (use code BALANCE10 for 10% off your purchase).
2. Track your protein in a food tracking app to get familiar with the protein amounts in different foods. If tracking your food is triggering, skip this step and just be mindful about your consumption and how you feel when you have more vs. less. Want support building a protein rich meal? Click THIS link to download my free Sexy 6 formula + shopping lists!
3. Experiment with different proteins and combinations to see what you enjoy best and how you feel! Protein is bio-individual and what works well for one person, may cause bloating and constipation in another. For example, I personally don't digest red meat well but I know plenty of people who thrive on it! Over the years I have found what works for me but it's taken some trial and error and it changes based on my mood, cravings, menstrual cycle, seasonality, and where I am in the world!
Protein Latte Recipe: I make a variation of THIS every morning (pre-workout) and it's the EASIEST way to get in 25 grams of protein! I add 1 scoop LSF Nutrition peanut butter protein + 1 heaping tablespoon of my Body Bliss Rose & Shine cacao latte blend (sugar-free) to 2 cups of almond or coconut milk. I whisk or blend it all together, heat it, and top with nut pods creamer and cinnamon. It's decadent, delicious and honestly my favorite part of the morning. PSSSST- I'm having a 15% off sale on all of my latte blends until 8/31 HERE!
Want help hitting your protein goals? Save THIS reel for simple and scrumptious ideas!
Find these tips helpful? Comment on THIS reel sharing your favorite protein sources and follow me @bodyblissbyjess for more realistic nutrition, cycle support and more!
- Jess Suchan
Health Coach & founder, Body Bliss by Jess