What Every Person Should Know about Protein

What Every Person Should Know about Protein

The magical unicorn of muscle building...

Protein isn’t it. Unfortunately, when it comes to increasing muscle mass and shedding fat, the only answer is old school real food and hard work. Consistency and commitment in diet and exercise, as boring as it sounds, are as close as you can get to the magical answer to looking and feeling like the beast that your body was designed to be. As Katherine Tallmadge put it in her 2015 article on Livescience.com, “While nutrition is important, the quality of your strength-training workout is a key factor for building muscle mass.” (Tallmadge, 2013)

The amount of protein you need...

10-35% of total caloric intake (Medicine, 2005). Consuming more than 35% of total calories from protein is futile. As shown in the chart below, the range is very large. The take-home lesson here is this:  know that you should not get caught up in the numbers. You are more than likely already getting enough protein. For bodybuilders, this chart below can give you a good insight into the upper effective limit of protein intake so you don’t waste time, money and other resources obsessing about extra protein when it adds no additional benefit.

CaloriesGrams of 
at 10-35%

The amount you already eat every day may surprise you

The typical American dietary intake of protein is between 15-16.5% of total calories. (Statistics, 2015) If you are like any other typical American, you are already eating more than the minimum required amount of protein. Try recalling a typical day’s food intake to see how much protein you are consuming. This will enable you to see if you should be taking in more protein.

Breakfast2 Scrambled Eggs (12g) with ½ cup oatmeal (5g) and 8oz milk (8g)
Snack2 Tbsp. peanut butter (7g)
Lunch2 packs tuna (32g)
Snack¼ cup Almonds (7g)
Dinner4oz Chicken breast (26g) with brown rice (5g)
Approximate Total100-105 grams of protein

Over 20% of total calories for a 2,000 calorie diet.

Great sources of protein from foods...

Eating a variety of these foods will ensure you are maintaining an adequate intake of protein.

DairyGreek yogurt (23g per 8oz)

Cottage cheese (14g per ½ cup)

Swiss cheese (8g per 1oz)

Eggs (6g per 1 large egg)

2% milk (8g per 1 cup)

Whey protein (17g per scoop)

MeatSteak (23g per 3oz)

Ground beef (18g per 3oz)

Boneless pork chop (26g per 3oz)

Chicken (24g per 3oz)

Turkey breast (24g per 3oz)

Yellowfin tuna (25g per 3oz)

Halibut (23g per 3oz)

Salmon (23g per 3oz)

Tilapia (21g per 3oz)

Anchovies (23g per 3oz)

Sardines (21g per 3oz)

Vegetables & BeansEdamame (8g per ½ cup)

Green peas (7g per 1 cup)

Navy beans (20g per 1 cup)

Dried lentils (13g per ¼ cup)

GrainsWheat germ (6g per 1oz)

Soba noodles (12g per 3oz)

Quinoa (8g per 1 cup)

Snack FoodsBeef jerky (13g per 1oz)

Peanut butter (8g per 2 Tbsp.)

Mixed nuts (6g per 2oz)

(Kadey, 2016)

Timing is everything

When you eat protein is equally as important as what you eat. Every time you work out, muscle tissue is broken down. In order to repair and build new muscle, protein intake is essential prior to or immediately following high-intensity exercise to optimize protein utilization in muscle building. Taking in high-quality protein within 1 hour prior to exercise offers the maximum benefit of “increasing amino acid delivery to the muscle” and stimulating muscle repair, recovery, and growth. (Tipton, 2001)


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Sarah is a Registered Dietitian, health coach, blogger, presenter, writer and founder of Simpletic Nutrition. Sarah holds a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Memphis and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Middle Tennessee State University. Sarah resides in Nashville, TN, with her two sons, Eli and Ethan, and her husband, Scott. Contact: www.simpleticnutrition.com/contact

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