If you are eating the right amount of calories to facilitate your goal, then your attention should turn towards protein.
Protein’s primary purpose is to repair and build muscle tissue. This makes it important to the following goals for the following reasons
Build Muscle - * See the primary purpose above.
Lose Fat - Obviously, those the main focus is to lose fat, but a close second should be to retain muscle mass (the stuff that moves your bones). This is what helps give you shape, strength and that ‘toned look’. Protein is important in retaining that muscle whilst you are in a calorie deficit (burning off more calories than you consume).
Increase Performance - Every time you train, you are breaking down your muscle tissue. Protein is vital in repairing the damage and creating stronger tissue whilst you recover, ensuring that you can be stronger the next session.
So its valuable! How much should you aim to eat?
For each of these goals you should aim to eat between 1- 1.5 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight. So someone who weighs 200lbs should be looking to get 200-300 grams of protein per day.
Things to consider
- If you keep a food diary and see that you eat far less than your ‘optimal’ amount, don’t try to ramp it up all at once, aside from being difficult - it will likely be unsustainable. Build habits by increasing your protein intake 10% at a time per week consistently until you get there.
- Break down your target daily amount to a more manageable per meal basis. Get to know how much of your favourite protein sources will provide that amount.
- Approach every meal with a ‘wheres the protein’ mentality. When picking what to eat/cook, start with the protein and shop from there. When you get a better idea of how much protein each food source provides, then this will become a great deal easier.
Use our little guide to assess what foods will provide you with a set amount of protein. These are all approximate weights of the food source that will provide you with 10 grams of protein. Multiply accordingly to get an idea of how much you will need. These are all recommended food sources, try to eat as wide of a range of them as possible and try to stay away from any processed meats.