True Confession “Protein Wasn’t A Priority”
I’m Good… Not!
You may think that you’re getting enough protein in your diet, but the results may surprise you. Like many people, I like to think that I know how important protein is especially as we age while still wanting to stay lean and in good shape. After tracking my own diet, I was surprised to discover how much less protein I was consuming than I thought. After taking a closer look at my typical food intake and evaluating my nutritional needs, I decided to double down and focused on ways to improve my protein intake. Read on to find out more about my discoveries and the steps I took to bring up my protein intake.
I always been a health-minded person, heck I’m an active personal trainer and am conscious of the importance of protein in my diet. As a matter of regular maintenance I decided it was time for a review and did a quick nutrition audit to check out my macros, including my daily intakes of protein, fiber and fluids over a 3 day window. I thought I was getting enough if not close to the full amount on most days but after seeing the numbers in MyFitnessPal(1) I realized I was eating less protein than I thought. Even with a margin of error I had tapered off course and was about to lose out,
Protein For Health
During the colder months, I sometimes have oatmeal but it has very little protein even with added milk. For snacks, I was having fruit or nuts which were also low in protein and often my lunches were good or at least ok for fiber, fat and carbs but lacking in protein with supper about the same. Now most of us know how protein is so essential for building muscles and maintaining a healthy weight, but I’ve also learned that protein can even help certain medical conditions(2) that arise or are exasperated by insufficient protein or deficiency. If you’re over 30, 40…. or 50+ like myself we pay attention to this that. Generally the recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight but this is highly subjective as high performance training can require significantly more but either way I was falling short for my own goals, and I needed to make some changes.
More Protein Easy
I knew that by making adjustments I would feel better and perform at a higher level than my chronological age and truth be told there was really nothing hard about it, everyone can do it. After a day or two of intentional eating it was easy to add a meaningful amount of protein in my diet by simply swapping or adding a few things.
First I found that adding protein powder(3) to my oatmeal and smoothies made the biggest difference. Next, adding Greek yogurt or hard boiled eggs to my snacks helped and of course including more lean meat and seafood sealed the deal.
While this post is only a general overview of my nutritional overhaul I also corrected my macros and meal timing which improved digestion, supported my gut microbiome(4) and removed the friction creeping between my lifestyle and circadian sleep / wake rhythm.
Basically the most important take away IMO is having enough protein with each meal helps you function, feel and perform better, it also helps you to avoid some negatives(2) that accompany regular deficiency of protein whether you train like a beast or not at all.
Protein Helps Me
Did correcting my protein intake really make a difference in how I feel? Absolutely yes, as my nutritional intake became more protein balanced, I felt an increase in positive mood, improved mental aquity, physical energy and strength during training. Did it affect my muscles too, again yes, the training command stimulus was more easily received by my muscles which began to respond with a longer lasting pump, faster recovery and a generally fuller feeling between training sessions. This helped me improve muscle quality, which in turn helped me burn more calories and lose fat even while at rest simply because I met my protein needs.
The Right Amount Of Protein Improves Quality Of Life
Over the years my vision for my own training has evolved and I have learned a lot about the importance of protein in a diet including how to make sure I keep getting enough.
Getting enough protein is not a chore, it’s an investment with a high rate of return. Becoming more protein conscious has become an important part of my lifestyle that keeps me feeling great and performing in best for for whatever life throws at me.
This is the way.
In my next post, we’ll look at why calories matter and how macronutrient choices can help you improve your body composition.
About the Author
On an eternal search to improve wellbeing, life quality, and performance through training and nutrition, Neil is co-founder of iSmart Nutrition and founder of Champion Fit 365