Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ask Anna: Protein

Dear Anna, 

Challenge task #5 is to get protein at every meal.  What's up with that?  Is there a certain amount I need to reach?  Should I be eating pounds of meat or slamming protein shakes?


A loyal Beit Bari Challenger

....Good question! A mini-nutrition lesson...

Protein is a macro-nutrient (along with fat and carbohydrates).  All three are important in a healthy "diet."

Carbohydrates are good quick energy and the body's main fuel source.  They are especially good fuel before exercise (as the body can use them quickly), during periods of endurance exercise and to refuel the body after exercise.

Fat gets a bad reputation because a. its synonymous with 'being fat' and having excess weight and b. there are some modified fats that aren't good for you.  It is however a very important nutrient for the body and can provide long-lasting energy, long after your carbohydrates have been used up.

Back to Protein.  Protein, like fat, maintains satiety (ie feeling full).  It preserves lean muscle mass (which you'll start building when you're doing strength training at least twice a week, right?!), prevents spikes in insulin, and helps build muscle.  The body also must work harder to digest protein so its like getting an extra workout eating protein (kidding but it could have a small affect on your basal metabolic rate).

To maximize proteins effect:  Get protein in regular intervals.  The body can only process about 30 g of protein at one time so going without protein all day and then eating a huge steak for dinner doesn't quite cut it. That's why I recommend some with every meal/snack.

How much should you be getting?  Aim for 1.2g/kg body weight  (1 kg = 2.2 lbs... math time!)

What are good sources?  

  • Meat - chicken, turkey, pork, beef
  • Eggs
  • Tofu/tempeh
  • Seafood/fish
  • Yogurt (especially Greek), milk, low-fat cheese, cottage cheese
  • Beans
  • Nuts/nut butters
  • Avocado

You don't need to eat meat to get your protein in.  For example from my day yesterday...
   Breakfast = whey protein after workout
   Snacks = Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese
   Lunch/Dinner = beans, quinoa (grain high in protein), almonds, avocado

I hope this answers your questions about protein foods.  Anything else I can answer for you?
Feel free to comment below and let me know!  More "Ask Anna" posts to come...

Beit Bari xo Anna


  1. An applicable post as I was trying to decide between morning star fake sausage or turkey sausage for some easy egg sandwich on whole wheat English muffin option. I walked away with neither but what do you suggest? They are surprisingly close in nutritional value as far as fat, calories, protein go. Better to have meat protein or veggie?

  2. Wonderful question and something I know we all struggle with! The next place you'll want to look on those labels is Ingredients! How many in each? Any unrecognizable? More than likely, one will stand out as a better option with less processed ingredients. Also might want to gaze over the amount of sugar and sodium in the products too. Let me know what you chose!

    If you need more help give me the brands and we can do a comparison!