Recently I shared a dirty little secret about protein…
…Okay, maybe not so dirty
But it’s an important fact if you’re trying to lose fat, reshape your body composition, build immunity to illness (hello Covid), or just want to be healthy.
If you missed the original blog post, grab your favorite drink and dig in.
(WARNING: it’s loaded with useful information so that you can start implementing healthier eating habits now.)
If you prefer the cliff notes version, here you go…
Protein is the cellular building block of our bodies.
We need protein consistently from our diets in order to GROW, MAINTAIN, and REPAIR our tissues, hormones, and immune system.
🤫 The secret — our bodies DO NOT store protein! It is immediately put to use.
…if fat loss is your goal, eat MORE sources of LEAN protein.
Most people will BENEFIT from eating more protein, for:
- Weight and body composition management
- Appetite control
- Muscle growth or maintenance
- Improved cardiometabolic health
- Better strength
- Improved immune function
- Faster recovery
MYTH: protein does not build muscle…
…it is a building block FOR muscle.
When we eat higher amounts of protein combined with strength training exercise, it can aid in strength gains and RESHAPE body composition.
👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻 THIS was my personal body composition breakthrough at the age of 45, I shed 3% body fat, and…
… my client Alyssa, a mom of 3, dropped 7 pounds and 2% body fat this past year.
…fat loss doesn’t require perfection
My clients successfully lose body fat by simply incorporating a lean source of protein at each meal.
The point is to be more mindful and work on the continuum of making good, better, best food choices.
Now that you have the cliff notes version of The Secret of Protein part 1, you may ask…
“Coach C, what does it mean to use the continuum to make good, better, best nutrition choices?”
Remember that bowl of Shredded Wheat soaking in skim milk with fresh berries that I used to eat for breakfast?
This “healthy” carbolicious bowl of cereal is a GOOD choice.
It has fiber and a small amount of protein from cow’s milk.
(In comparison, a not-so-good choice— a high-calorie store-bought muffin loaded with unhealthy fat.)
Using the continuum model of good, better, best choices…
A BETTER breakfast choice than a bowl of cereal: a low-fat, high protein yogurt–like Siggi’s Icelandic or Fage Greek yogurt– and fresh berries. This choice adds more protein and calcium.
A BEST choice on the continuum: 4 egg whites, 1 yolk egg scramble with veggies.
Egg whites are an excellent source of protein, one yolk provides healthy fat and umami, and veggies provide a variety of vitamins and minerals and can check off 1-2 servings of veggies at breakfast time.
Are you grasping this concept of the continuum?
Progress not perfection.
All of my clients start at a different “nutritional age”.
And I get it… we are busy mamas. (and some mamas may not enjoy cooking 🙋🏻♀️…)
A client who consistently makes GOOD choices will start to FEEL results quicker when she incorporates BETTER choices at most meals.
Take a look at this bar graph.
How can you start to incorporate better choices in your diet?
I like to get my protein from a variety of sources, but here are a few of my go-to favorites:
- Smoked salmon on Ezekiel toast
- Grilled lean chicken, pork tenderloin,
- 93% ground turkey, chicken or beef (tacos, one-skillet meals)
- Tuna fish mashed with avocado (instead of mayo)
- White fish (so simple to bake in a foil packet!)
- Salmon (we have a Sitka Salmon share and have fish delivered monthly)
- Egg whites scrambles
- Muffin pan egg white frittatas (can make in big batch and freeze)
- Quinoa or farro, made with bone broth*
- Skyr or low-fat greek yogurt
- Spinach, kale, collard greens
- Jocko Mölk Whey Protein Powder (I ❤️ vanilla and chocolate flavor)
- Vital Protein Collagen Peptides (great option for vegans, also non-dairy)
*PRO TIP: bone broth is a fantastic protein substitute for any recipe using chicken or beef broth/stock.
My recommendation to clients is to aim for 30 grams of protein at each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner).
Start with a lean protein source first. The other foods on your plate will also contribute to total protein intake.
Some examples of my lean protein focused meals:
One of my easy go-to meals — smoked salmon on Ezekiel bread (a sprouted grain bread) with a ¼ of an avocado spread, or sautéed spinach with a four egg scramble (4 whites:1 yolk).
A few days a week I opt for a protein smoothie: blending protein powder, water, ice cubes, 1/4 avocado, frozen strawberries. If I don’t have avocado on hand, use ¼ cup of riced cauliflower (thawed for better consistency, creaminess in smoothie!)
My breakfast is dependent on time (probably like yours) so I’m always planning and preparing so that I can set myself up for success.
* PRO TIP: Think outside the box when considering breakfast choices. I love making a quinoa bowl for breakfast and eating eggs for lunch. 🧐
I usually incorporate a green salad with lean protein (chicken, pork tenderloin, eggs, or white fish). My greens tend to be dressed with balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze, OR lemon with a drizzle of EVO.
During the winter when I’m craving warm comfort foods, I’ll steam a bag of mixed frozen veggies and dress them up with spices before adding my protein source on top.
LATE AFTERNOON SNACK —
I love Skyr yogurt. It’s high in protein and has a smooth, creamy consistency. I like to sprinkle fresh or frozen berries + cinnamon.
My newer go-to is mixing a half scoop of chocolate protein powder into plain low-fat greek yogurt + cinnamon + berries. This boosts protein intake to increase satiety, especially helpful if dinner is later than normal.
Rolled oats can also be my go-to. I’ll use oats as a base with blueberries, cinnamon, a scoop of collagen peptides, and pour unsweetened vanilla almond milk over the top.
If I’m on the go, my favorite snack is an RX Bar. (For me, an RX bar is an easy portioned controlled snack.)
We have a routine of cooking a big batch meal on Sunday (turkey chili, chicken Picadillo, beef stew, pulled pork, one-dish chicken meals, pork tenderloins, etc) and will eat for leftovers 2-3 nights during the week.
* PRO TIP: When possible, double or triple a recipe so that you have left-overs to freeze. You’ll appreciate the ease of defrosting a home cooked meal when a day doesn’t go as planned.
When the weather cooperates, we grill a lot: salmon, chicken, pork tenderloin, burgers (93% lean ground meat).
FAMILY FAVORITE — PANCAKES
Here’s an example of how to make a GOOD choice a BETTER choice…
Kodiak Cakes are a fave in our house. It’s a good source of protein that the whole family can enjoy, especially for my one picky eater.
One serving of Kodiak pancake mix has 14 grams of protein.
I’ll mix in an egg (7 grams protein), 1 Tbsp of flaxseed (healthy fat), ½ cup of canned pumpkin (vitamin C), 1 scoop collagen peptides (complete amino acids), plus 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice seasoning (flavor!).
The boys have NO idea how we amped up their cakes!
This transforms regular buttermilk pancakes from a good breakfast choice into a protein-packed, nutrient-dense BETTER breakfast choice.
*PRO TIP — serve with a side of low-fat breakfast sausage or greek yogurt to amp up your protein-packed meal.
My hope is that this article has you thinking on how to make small, simple changes to your overall diet.
What’s one thing you can do today to make a better choice?