We’re starting to answer some of your questions from the All-Star group, so please keep those questions coming and we’ll do our best to keep you fueled, fit and fantastic!
When we asked about what you think you could use some help with in the kitchen, the answer came back loud and clear: How to Eat Enough Protein! Challenges in building or retaining muscle gain, loss of strength or recurring plateaus in your training are all good indicators that you might not be eating enough protein. If you’re interested in why you need protein, check out this series we did a year ago: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
A good rule of thumb for protein intake for active people is up to a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This means most of us will be eating around 100g protein a day. Seems like a lot, right? It doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways that you can make those numbers seem easy to achieve.
First, divide your protein evenly among your meals and snacks. 100g can seem intimidating if you’re trying to eat it all in one shot, but 25g protein per meal and 15g per snack is totally doable. Make sure to eat protein with your breakfast, as it will help you feel satiated and get your day started off right.
Not sure how much protein is in the food you choose? Here’s some help:
- Can of Tuna – 40g/can
- Ground Beef – 25g/100g
- Chicken Breast – 25g/100g
- Ground Turkey – 25g/100g
- Canned Mackerel – 23g/100g
- Pork Chop – 49g/6oz
- Ham – 35g/6oz
- Salmon – 34g/6oz
- Skim Milk – 8g/Cup
- 2% Milk – 10g/Cup
- Greek Yogurt – 17g/container
- Low-fat Yogurt – 11g/container
- Cottage cheese – 28.1g/cup
- Whole Egg – 7g
Meat Substitutes and Legumes, Nuts, Seeds:
- Tofu – 13.8g/6oz
- Tempeh – 31g/Cup
- Peanut Butter – 8g/2tbsp (7g/oz whole nuts)
- Almond Butter – 7g/2 tbsp (6g/oz whole nuts)
- Lentils – 18g/Cup
- Chickpeas – 8g/100g
- Quinoa – 14g/100g
- Kidney Beans – 15g/Cup
- Black Beans – 15g/Cup
- Garbanzo Beans – 16g/Cup
- Green Peas – 8g/Cup
- Edamame – 17g/Cup
- Sesame Seeds – 7.5g/oz
- Chia Seeds – 17g/100g
- Flax Seeds – 18g/100g
- Sunflower Seeds – 21g/100g
Even some fruits, veggies and leafy greens will add a little bit of protein to your meals. Regardless of whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or omnivore, make sure to vary your protein sources. Different foods contain different amino acids, and you need to make sure you’re getting a variety. If you find you’re getting sick of your favourite protein source, that might be a sign that you could either cut your protein intake a bit, or that you need to find another source to integrate into your diet.
Too busy to make something every day? Plan Ahead! Buy in bulk – freeze some and incorporate your protein prep into your grocery shopping trips. I love to pre-cook hard-boiled eggs and pop a roast into the slow-cooker so that I have protein snacks for the whole week. And don’t forget about Booty Quake’s Chicken Breast Game Changer!
Here are a couple of portable, easy recipes that will keep you poppin’ protein all day!
Vegan Bean Salad (20g protein/serving)
- 1 can of rinsed black, kidney or mixed beans
- 1-1.5 C frozen corn (unfrozen)
- Half a cucumber, diced
- Half a red pepper, diced
- 1/2 C chopped parsley or cilantro
- 1/2 C chopped swiss chard or mixed greens
- 1/2 C chopped celery
- handful chopped scallions
Dressing: 1tsp lime juice, 2tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp dijon mustard, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper
Rinse the beans and corns, chop all the choppable things, toss together. Mix the dressing – top and enjoy. Makes 2 servings!
- 1 lb lean ground turkey breast
- 1/4 C unseasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/4 C diced carrot
- 1/8 C diced onion
- 1 egg
- Italian seasoning, salt, 1 diced garlic clove, red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients well by hand. Shape into 2tbsp balls for small meatballs and place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then check to make sure they’re not pink on the inside and bake longer if needed. Serve however you want – with pasta, on greens, with a marinara. Also, you can freeze them! When you’re ready to eat them, pop them in the microwave to defrost. Yummy and portable for practice! Make 24 small meatballs.
FYI, if you still can’t manage to hit 100g without downing a shake, here’s my favourite shake for this time of year: The Pumpkin Spice – ice, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (20-30g protein), 1/2 C pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, water or almond milk, (banana optional), crumbled nuts and cinnamon on top. Enjoy!