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Why is protein important?

With the holidays here, I know just how hard it can be to stay on your routine. I’m here to remind you that no SINGLE event is worth throwing your hands in the air. My biggest ick as a coach is when someone says “Yeah you’re right. I’ll start Monday” or next month or whatever excuse it is that day. Working out is only half of this so I have devised a series of emails that I will be sending out the next couple of weeks to help address some of your most common nutrition questions. This first one will target why protein is important and a general starting point for men and women to get there. Enjoy!

Why is protein important?

Protein is an essential macronutrient (proteins, fats, and carbs) required by our bodies to build and repair tissues, including muscles, bones, skin, and hair.

It plays a crucial role in numerous physiological processes, such as enzymatic reactions, hormone production, and immune function. While whole foods are the primary source of protein, protein supplements can be a convenient way to meet daily protein requirements, especially for athletes or individuals with increased protein needs (so most of you).

Most conversations I have with many of you lead me to believe that you are more foggy, tired, cranky, and hungry than you should be. All signs point to insufficient or low-quality calorie intake, which plays a crucial role in immune function, hormone regulation and overall hormone health in the body.

Here’s a breakdown of how protein affects our hormones:

1. Growth hormone (GH): Protein intake stimulates the secretion of growth hormone, which is essential for tissue growth, repair, and overall development.

Without adequate protein consumption, we limit our muscle growth and recovery time.

2. Insulin: Protein intake has minimal impact on insulin levels compared to carbohydrates. However, consuming protein alongside carbohydrates can slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent sharp insulin spikes.

In general, if you want to get lean – you want to limit your insulin spikes. Start by accompanying carbohydrates with a protein source.

3. Leptin: Leptin is a hormone that tells us we are full and helps with energy balance. 

Have you ever eaten Chinese food and found yourself starving 30mins later? It’s likely because the protein serving was lower than what you needed, there’s no fiber, and nothing you ate was nutrient dense. I’m politely telling you most takeout isn’t serving your body-goals.

4. Ghrelin: Ghrelin is a hormone that tells you you’re hungry. Protein-rich meals have been shown to reduce ghrelin levels and increase satiety, helping to decrease appetite and prevent overeating.

5. Thyroid hormones: Protein is necessary for the production and conversion of thyroid hormones. These hormones help regulate metabolism (how you burn calories), energy production (whether you feel energized or not), and overall growth and development (hello, lean muscle mass!). Adequate protein intake is vital for optimal thyroid function.

So, how much protein do I need?

Women generally need around .8g to 1g per pound of body weight to stay lean. This means that if I am 155 pounds, I need around 124-155g of protein per day. I lift weights about 5x per week, so I hit 155 personally.

Men tend to need closer to 1g to 1.2g per pound of body weight.

For many of you this seems like an astronomical amount and you probably don’t even know how much you’re getting each day.

To get started, I suggest you use something like MyFitnessPal or Mike’s Macros to get a general idea of where you are currently at.

Here’s How To Get Started

Step 1) Aim to get 80-100g per day minimum.

Step 2) Break this up by aiming for 3 square meals per day at 20-30g of protein per meal, with one snack per day around 15-20g.

I personally try not to eat anything else on my plate without attacking my protein first, so that when I start to get full there are no excuses

I have also included a n attached cheat sheet with protein servings that I hope will help you all get started.

Wrap Up

When you focus on quality eating, you tend to avoid eating like an ass hole because you’re not starving. Not only that, but your metabolism stays firing on all cylinders, meaning you burn more calories OUTSIDE of your workouts. Stop using your workouts to burn off the crap you ate the night before and start getting ahead.

Taking The Next Step

The best investment you can make is in yourself. If you need further help, I suggest you get in touch with Elaine Gratz to get more information on 1:1 nutrition help OR join her brand new group nutrition program HERE.

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