It can be hard to get enough protein.
If you’re dieting to lose fat, make sure you’re taking in enough protein.
- Controls appetite
- Muscle sparing when in a calorie deficit. – keep muscle, lose fat
Out of the 3 macros – protein, carbs, fats – protein is the one that can be a challenge.
AND – as we age, we will loose muscle unless we do a couple things to keep it
Let’s figure out exactly how much YOU need and make a plan so you can check that box each day…
Watch the video or read below.
Several suggestions out there to help you figure out how much you need…
- % of total calories
Don’t like this one.
Your Protein need is based on how your body size and composition.
If someone goes on a crash diet, 35% to “not enough calories” isn’t going to protect them from losing muscle on that diet.
Protein should be set number that only changes when your body composition changes.
- 1-1.2 grams per kg of total body weight
This is better because it is based on body size and is easy to calculate.
If you weigh yourself in pounds, divide your weight by 2.2 to convert to kg.
200/2.2 = 90 kg
90 kg x 1 gram = 90 grams
90 kg x 1.2 grams = 109 grams
So using this method, this person would need between 90 and 109 grams of protein each day.
It’s a general recommendation for anyone, but I have a couple of concerns about it…
- works better for people who are already lean.
- it might be on the low end for women over 40, 50, or 60 who workout
- Method I prefer a method that dials it in a little better.
I find the weight of lean body mass and eat about 1 gram per pounds of lean body mass.
It’s easier to get an estimate of lean body mass now because we have access to technology that will estimate it for us at home.
Some scales will estimate bodyfat %. So does this little hand-held thing.
200 pound woman who has 40% bodyfat is 100-40 = 60% lean.
200 x 0.6 = 120 lbs of lean mass
That would be the protein target for each day – 120 grams.
Make it a range.
90 to 120 grams.
She will naturally fluctuate in that range if she has a protein shake after a workout.
If her protein shake has 20 grams of protein in it,
She needs to have a plan to get at least 100 grams of protein from food in during her day.
Spread it out.
Research has shown that protein synthesis – the uptake of amino acids during digestion to be used by the muscles – is best accomplished if we have 20-25 grams of protein spaced out over the day in 4-5 meals or snacks.
This is just a suggestion for optimizing protein intake and I know people who are using intermittent fasting will do something different.
What matters more is hitting that total daily protein number no matter when you want to eat.
Let’s assume you’re going to spread it out.
To begin, make a list of your favorite protein foods.
Here is a list of common protein foods and the amounts of each that will give us about 20-25 grams of protein.
Whole large eggs = 4
Large egg whites = 6-7
Chicken breast, skinless and cooked = 2.5-3 oz
Salmon cooked = 3.5 – 4 oz
Tofu cooked = 6-7.5 oz
Lentils cooked = 1-1.5 cups
Chickpeas = 2 cups
Greek yogurt, plain, nonfat = 7-9 oz
Broccoli raw = 8-9 cups
Protein shakes – read the label, but most have between 20-25 grams of protein per scoop
What to do?
Figure out how much you need using the methods we just talked about.
If you’re tracking food already, look and see what your total protein intake is now.
It might be just right.
If it’s low…
If you’re already eating protein foods, increase the portion sizes a little.
If you’re not eating protein foods, add them in!
Maybe all you need to do is add a protein shake.
A perfect time to have that protein shake is after exercise. Body is primed to start protein synthesis after activity – especially lifting.
A protein snack in the afternoon will help get across that time between lunch and dinner when we want to nibble on all the things!
And if your weight loss has stalled, click into this video to learn how to fix that or avoid it the next time you’re dieting.
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Hi! I'm Tammy! I was a busy, stressed, and unhealthy teacher until I decided to take control of my health. I did not become an athlete until I was in my 50's!
I earned personal training and fitness nutrition certifications, then retired from teaching to dedicate my work life to fitness education for other busy women over 40.
My results are obviously not typical because most people don't train to compete as a bodybuilder.
But I believe everyone can make positive changes with healthy habits! Each of us has a unique combination of strengths and challenges that need to be considered to customize a program that will work for us. Science-based principles, flexibility, and consistency make all the difference.