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One of the most important weight loss tips is making sure you get enough protein in your diet.
Protein is pretty sweet. It’s healthy, tasty, and because it’s a little harder for your body to break down than processed carbohydrates, it keeps you feeling full for a lot longer.
By adding more protein into your diet, you can
- Feel fuller for longer, making it easier to beat cravings
- Build lean muscle, which turns your body into a fat burning machine
- Burn fat, getting you closer to your weight loss goal and giving you a little confidence boost
There’s a lot to love about protein and when you add to that the fact that it’s delicious, it’s my favourite kind of food.
What is protein?
Basically, proteins are made up of amino acids and are the building blocks of your muscles. Our bodies aren’t able to produce all the amino acids we need to survive on their own so we have to get them from our food.
When you eat protein, it helps your body to recover and rebuild. So if you’re keeping active and doing lots of work in the gym, you need to make sure you’re getting enough protein to recover and build that lean, healthy physique that you’re after.
Protein can be found in a variety of tasty, healthy foods. For a quick look at some of our favourites, check this out
How Much Should I Have?
The amount you need will probably vary a little from person, depending on things like activity levels, metabolism and so on. A little trial and error goes a long way here. You’ll know you’re getting enough protein if you feel pretty full through the day, you’re building some muscle slowly, and you’re not brutally sore for days after every workout.
For people who love numbers, a good guideline is between .5 – 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh. Once you’re comfortable, you can adjust from there.
We can’t always count everything, though, and most of us are looking for a sane and intuitive way to eat healthy. That’s why we love Precision Nutrition’s guidelines for portion size.
We usually recommend 1 palm sized-portion for women and 1-2 for men with every meal. If you’re more active, have a little more. If you’re less active you can shoot for the lower end of the spectrum. If you’re getting your servings in with every meal, though, that’s all you need to worry about for now. As long as you’re keeping activity levels up and doing some strength training, you’ll be getting stronger and leaner while staying full. What’s not to love?
A Quick Note
Usually we recommend looking for leaner protein sources. This means things like:
- Skinless chicken breast
- Extra lean ground beef
- Low fat dairy products
- Tofu, tempeh
- Protein powders
Lean sources mean there isn’t much else in the food other than protein. By choosing lean sources you make it easy to make sure you’re getting enough protein in a day.
But what if you’re eating protein that’s not lean?
A lot of meat products will have a little extra fat on them, you may often prefer full-fat dairy products, or plant sources of protein like chickpeas or quinoa that also carry a heavy hit of carbohydrates.
That’s no problem at all. There are tons of healthy protein sources that aren’t necessarily lean. All this means is that you have to factor it in to your meal planning.
Having a fattier cut of meat or full fat dairy? Cut back on other healthy fats in your meal.
Having chickpeas as your main protein source? Hold back a little bit on starchy carbs in the rest of your meal.
Once you’re comfortable with how much protein you should be getting and what it feels like, adjustments become natural and intuitive. By keeping things simple, you’ll be able to get the nutrition you need to hit your goals without dieting, counting every calorie, or freaking out about macronutrients.
Want to start adding some protein to your diet today?
Check out these 3 awesome protein-packed recipes we like:
Bean Salad with Bacon and Chives from realsimple.com:
Pork Cutlets with Sautéed Peppers and Beans from realsimple.com:
Refried Black Bean Tostadas from vegangela.com: