As a vegetarian for 10 years, the most obnoxious question I got asked constantly was “where do you get your protein?” I was young and a bad vegetarian, so often I’d say eggs, peanut butter or cheese.
Last Saturday, after a morning hike spent discussing nutrition, I went to a Vinyasa class and felt weak. Granted, I had done an hour-long hike and this particular yoga class was led by the fitness coordinator of my gym and I just kind of get the sense that her old school group fitness ways sometimes interfere with the yoga I love, but too often I feel weak in classes or on runs or in the pool and, yes, workouts should be a challenge, but for as much as I work out and as “healthy” as I am, that should not be the case!
It kind of all came together in that class and it made sense that my muscles are hungry and protein would feed them! Although I don’t consider myself a vegetarian anymore, I tend to eat vegetarian about 90% of the time and I tend to fall back on my young vegetarian ways of not eating meat (v. replacing it with other good sources of protein). Protein and iron often come hand-in-hand in foods and the fact that my iron count was too low to donate blood for about four months last year should have given me the hint that I needed a dietary change.
One of the resolution ideas I tossed around for a while was Stephany’s idea of making one change each month. I found it hard to come up with 12 changes, particularly without wanting to tackle them all at once, but perhaps I just needed to let them come to me! So…increasing my protein intake is going to be my change for January (a week and a half late, but still) and I’ll see what pops up each month for the rest of the year.
To figure out how to best up my protein, I consulted my experts…
The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises says one gram of protein for each pound of your goal body weight.
My NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training supports both, saying 10-25% of daily calories from protein or 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (oh, kilograms).
So, there are four calories in one gram of protein and if I’m supposed to eat 2000 calories a day on active days…yep, figuring out the percentages and counting calories and adding grams = too much work, so I’m going to aim for one gram per pound.
I found some foods I enjoy eating to help me increase my protein intake:
1 serving chicken breast…34 grams
1 serving fish (depending on type)…34 grams
1/2 c. of cottage cheese…16 grams
1 scoop protein powder…15 grams
1 cup black beans…15 grams
2 Tbs. peanut butter…8 grams
1 cup cooked quinoa…8 grams
1 cup skim milk….8 grams
1 cup fat-free yogurt…7 grams
1 egg…6 grams
1 oz. almonds….6 grams
2/3 cup granola…5 grams
1 cup spinach…5 grams
And now I can see how I was NEVER going to get to my required amount with milk and eggs alone. It still seems difficult…I mean, seriously, with everything we’re “supposed” to be eating, does anyone else feel like they’re just going to have to walk around eating ALL DAY LONG?!
Honestly, I’m telling you right now there is no way I’m going to eat a gram of protein for every pound of my body weight, BUT, there is a way I will be more aware and do better and get closer each day. I have a hunch that my workouts will be better off for it!
What are the most annoying questions you get asked?!
When I was graduating college I dreaded, “So, what’s next?” (until I knew, then it was fine) and now I’m sometimes bored with people who think my love life has got to be the most interesting thing about me. BUT, I’m just as guilty of asking high schoolers what college they’re going to and newlyweds when they’re popping out the first kid.
What are some of your favorite sources of protein?
My IRL bestie from second grade (second grade!) recently started a 90-day paleo and crossfit challenge so I’m following along with her new blog to discover some of her high-protein recipes!