Five Simple Strategies to Meet Your Daily Protein Needs
Protein could be considered "king of the macros..."- yet remains one of the hardest nutrients for people to get enough of.
It is, after all, the nutrient who is solely responsible for retaining or building muscle in any phase of a person’s program. What’s more is we know a certain threshold has to be met on a daily basis to ensure you retain all of the good stuff (muscle) you've worked so hard for.
Yet, one of the most common issues we see in our program is folks consistently struggling to meet that threshold on a day-to-day basis. It can seem like a big undertaking to hit these numbers, but the reality is it just takes a little planning and some education.
Strategies to Increase protein intake.
START with a good amount at breakfast. It's tough to play catch up if you're not already on track to hit your goals during the day from the start of the day. I think a decent target to aim for is about 10-20% of your daily intake here (i.e. if the need is 100g, you would aim for 10-20g).
Include a source with every meal/snack. Most folks seem to spread their intake out over 5 times in a day- 3 meals and 2 snacks.. One of the simplest ways to ensure the total protein intake at the end of the day is where we need it to be is by planning for it to be (duh, I know...). To do that, we'd take the total need and divide it by how many times you like to eat during the day (5). That means that no matter WHAT protein source we choose, we want it to be a portion size that gives us about 20-30g of protein. Below is a list of high-protein foods and how to hit that goal.
Chicken breast- 1 medium breast.
Burger from wild game (0% added fat)- 1 4-ounce patty.
Greek Yogurt (non-fat)- 1 cup (3-4 heaping spoonfulls)
Cottage cheese (non-fat)- ½ cup (2 heaping spoonfuls).
Eggs (6)- note this adds a tremendous amount of calories.
½ package of lean lunchmeat
1 can of tuna, chicken, or salmon.
1 filet of salmon or other fish.
Prepping in bulk takes the work out. One thing I've done EVERY week for 13 years is to cook a giant batch of chicken breast (or other lean protein). I don't put any seasoning on it (other than garlic or garlic salt) so I can use it for different types of meals ALL week without having to cook it fresh. This turns into: BBQ baked potatoes (I shred the chicken breast and use this sugar-free BBQ sauce), cubed and into an asian stir-fry, cooked with marinara and parm for an italian dish, in cobb salads, on quesadillas, etc. It's a SUPER easy way to cook once and use a bunch. This cuts down on SO much cooking time.
Use convenience proteins (especially during training days)
Increase overall portions of protein-based foods. If you already choose good sources of protein on some days…just use MORE of it.
One common error folks make is choosing things like bacon, peanut butter, nuts, etc. as a protein source. The error is in that these foods are predominantly high in fat and happen to have some protein….they’re a far stretch from high in protein.
For example, if you used bacon on one day as the protein source for around 100kcal. That 100kcal gave you 6g of protein. If we swapped it for turkey (just as an example), those SAME 100kcal would have given you 20g of protein.
We’ve dedicated an entire course to protein in for our one-on-one clients, but this can serve as a great guide to get started.
Using the simple strategies highlighted above ensure that you’re not only hitting the minimum amount needed to preserve or build your muscle after training- it provides practical ways to do so.
If you have other questions about protein you’d like to know more about- shoot us an email at info@v2pnutrition! We’d love to hear from you and are more than happy to help!