Protein is Priority

An average egg contains about 6 grams of protein.

I’m a protein forward practitioner. When I help my clients fine-tune their macronutrient ratios, protein is always the nutrient we target first and takes priority. We easily get enough fat and carbohydrates in our diets. Protein is another story.

If you’re unsure how much protein you should be consuming, and why, here’s a generalized summary of why protein is so important and how to determine your requirements.

First and foremost, proteins are the precursor to nearly every chemical process (think enzymes, antibodies, and peptide hormones which affect the endocrine system) and the building blocks for all tissues, organs, nerves, and muscles in the body.

Proteins and essential for digestion and detoxification. Proteins in the foods you consume actually trigger chemical reactions in your body to tell your digestive system what is needed to break down the foods you eat. If you’re consuming too little protein or not eating protein with every meal (or snack), your digestive system won’t operate optimally and you risk maximizing nutrient absorption.

Proteins improve satiety and increase thermogenesis. That means you’ll feel satisfied longer and you’ll burn more calories simply by eating more protein.

They rebuild tissues and are imperative for muscle growth and repair. Even if you’re not trying to “bulk up,” building muscle and staying strong later in life is vital. Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) is attributed to injuries in the elderly due to instability and weakness of the muscles and thus causing falls and other accidents.

Generally, you should aim to consume .75 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Bodybuilders and those really pushing to increase muscle mass for sport may increase higher, up to 1.2 grams per pound. If you’re trying to lose weight or are an athlete, protein requirements should be adjusted to meet individual factors. If overweight, generally, I’d recommend your protein intake, in grams, be roughly equal to your goal weight.

Customization is based on age, gender, activity level, caloric intake, digestive function, and goals.

The best complete sources of protein that contain all nine essential amino acids come from nutrient-dense whole foods: meat, fish, eggs, and some dairy products if tolerated by the individual. Whey protein is a supplement that should be used secondary to whole foods but a great option to bridge the gap when transitioning to higher protein intake.

Vegetable proteins from nuts, seeds, and vegetables count towards total protein consumption but do not contain all nine essential amino acids so make sure you’re eating a diverse array of foods for good overall health and adequate protein.

If getting enough protein is a challenge, this is my area of expertise. Reach out and we can create a plan to ensure you’re getting enough to meet (or meat, HA!) your needs.

What We Measure

We can better manage.

I’m a huge advocate for the collection of data to better understand how the body is responding to dietary manipulation in tandem with fitness pursuits.

And, there is a wide spectrum of tools and resources available; the scale is simply one of them.

I believe that what we measure, we can better manage. We are better able to create our desired outcome when we have a clear understanding of the metrics.  Where we begin, the collection of data through various modalities to monitor progress over time, and what that looks like in terms of the trajectory of where we are versus where we are headed are important aspects of the process of modifying body composition.

We so easily get fixated on one aspect of measurement that it becomes difficult to view the bigger picture.

With my private nutrition clients, I utilize a number of different tools for gauging progress depending on the client’s comfort level. Scale weight, measurements, and photographs are the most common ones because they are among the easiest. 

I’ve also recommended body composition analysis, which is my favorite tool because the data is so in-depth but it’s not the most convenient option. (More on this below.)

For some clients, using other biomarkers such as overall feelings of wellbeing, improvement in sleep, consistent bowel movements, increased energy, etc. are used. 

I’ve had clients use a garment to help keep track of their composition changes by monitoring how the clothing fits and feels each time they put it on. (I’m a fan of this one too! Getting reports from clients that something that previously didn’t fit, now does, is a powerful way to witness the needle moving forward!)

I find that clients that embrace using a variety of these tools have better results. And by better results, I’m not only talking about weight loss or muscle gain. Having a solid grasp on changes in the body based upon data is really empowering; knowledge is literally power!

As for me personally, I monitor my body composition via Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) by InBody pretty infrequently because it’s not something that’s easily accessible. But I really appreciate the insight it provides me when I do make the effort. (And by effort, I’ll have you know that I delayed my coffee consumption by nearly four hours this morning which was absolute torture!!)

There are a number of other analysis tools via bioelectrical scan, hydrostatic weighing, etc., and I highly recommend seeking it out if you’re as interested in data and monitoring body composition changes as I am. Even infrequent analysis is worth it!

I wasn’t overly surprised by anything the data revealed, except for the fact that I am apparently shrinking. I’ve asserted that I’m a solid 5’7 despite knowing that I’m actually 5’6 ¾. However, today I was 5’6 ½. Geesh.

There are two main reasons I opted to get tested. First, I was curious about where my body fat percentage is currently sitting as I near the end of an anabolic state (building) or, in other words, trying to add some muscle mass to my frame before I switch to a catabolic phase.

The other reason is that I have deficiencies that I’m trying to resolve. For example, my right leg has more muscle mass than my left leg, which is visually apparent (and not ideal when symmetry is important for my sport), and I’ve been working to create more balance. My efforts seem to be helping so that was good news.  

(Today’s analysis did reveal that my arms are pretty imbalanced too, which I wasn’t aware of. My right arm is significantly smaller than my left. Dang, I’m lopsided! Lol.)

My intention in sharing all of this is to let you know that there are so many ways to observe our progress when we are striving towards making changes. And oftentimes, the best results are ones that we have the most difficulty “seeing” in ourselves.

Also, I am now offering a year-long coaching package! If you would benefit from having long-term support to help you navigate your personal nutrition needs, and accountability completely customized to you, check out the details via the link below.

The investment is your declaration that you are ready to take radical responsibility for your health and wellbeing and I’d be honored to take the journey with you.

Information about the package can be found on my Functional Nutrition page. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!