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Lifestyle Habit #3: Eat More Protein

Lifestyle Habit #3: Eat More Protein

Clean Kitchen has 4 Big Lifestyle Habits we teach in our 12 week program. Habit #1 is Drink More Water. Habit #2 is Eat More Plants. Lifestyle Habit #3 is … Eat a protein serving in every meal. One of our goals in the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge is to get you in the habit of eating a protein serving in every meal, including snacks. How much protein should you eat? Do not worry about counting grams just yet. First you have to get in the habit of choosing protein in a correct portion size. We like to use our hand as a portion size guide. Look at your hand and thickness. Use this as your portion guide for every meal you eat!

WOMEN: One palm size portion MEN: Two palm size portions

This is just the start. If you eat 3 meals a day, do not force-feed yourself to get in 5 meals. Start with these portion size first, then, we promise after eating whole foods for a week or two, your body will be calling for more meals with whole foods! Watch the changes start happening! And of course pair this with two handfuls of veggies and/or a fist full one-ingredient starchy carbs and you have a complete meal!

But why is protein so important?

The protein we eat are the building blocks of our muscles. Without eating enough protein and fats in our diets our muscles would deteriorate. This doesn't mean you need to gorge on protein and fats all day long. This just means you need to eat enough to support your body and activity level. Using the hand portion size guide is usually enough for majority of people. The more muscle you have, the more protein your body needs to thrive. Depending on your goals and activity level will determine how much food you need to eat! But that is another article! Here is a short lesson on macronutrients and how it relates to building and keeping muscle:
  • Proteins (amino acids) are the building blocks of muscles. You need to eat this if you want to keep and build muscle.
  • Fats help with nutrient absorption and hormone regulation. Without adequate absorption, even if you are eating gobs of protein, it will not matter. It will go to waste. And an even bigger problem is hormone disruption which happens when people eat very low fat diets. Hormones LOVE fat!
  • Carbohydrates are your energy source. Carbs helps with recovery and your performance, which in turn will help you build more muscle. If you cannot recover, you can not perform at an optimal level—move more weight/more reps and as a result, create more growth…but more growth only if you are eating enough protein and getting enough rest.

Recovery is where you grow, not in the workout.

What you are eating (and how much sleep) after your workout is SO important if you are looking for gains or body composition changes. In reality, you do not need to load up on mass amounts of protein to gain muscle or burn body fat. A ratio of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is plenty of protein to either make gains or lose weight. BUT it is very essential that you eat enough protein in your diet to maintain (or gain) muscle. So, if you are a 140 pound woman, looking to lose body fat and get that “toned” look (AKA show muscle definition), or a 180 pound man looking to put on some muscle mass while cutting some body fat, my first question is going to be, how much protein do you eat per day? In a typical modern daily diet, a person usually eats 2-3 "meals" per day. Do you stop and think of what your meals consist of? Let’s go through a typical daily outline of meals we, as coaches, run into with majority of our clients, male and female.

Typical Woman Case study:

She has no idea why she can’t shed the last 10 pounds.

Lets say she weighs 140 pounds, works out 3 times per week, probably long distance cardio (45 minutes) 3 times per week, with a few weight-training sessions (maybe). Breakfast 7AM: Coffee with creamer, little sugar, intake 0 grams of protein.

She is not really a breakfast person and honestly not hungry in the morning.

Lunch between 12 - 2:00PM, intake 15-20 grams of protein

By this time she is really hungry. Probably has a headache and dragging a bit, and for good reason. She hasn’t eaten any essential nutrients for almost 24 hours (since dinner last night.)

After work she goes to the gym. Hits the gym for about 45 min-1 hour. Dinner between 6-8PM, intake 15-20 grams of protein.

She probably feels pretty hungry at this meal, and it tends to be the biggest meal of the day. The number one reason is, she has only eaten about 1 meal the entire day. That has cut her protein and fat intake way below requirement. But even this meal is not really high in protein, as it is mainly carbohydrates and fat.

Total daily protein intake: Maybe 40-50 grams of protein.

Just to maintain her current muscle mass, she would need to intake at least another 50-75 grams of protein. By under eating, she has trained her body to slow down energy burning and conserve (hold onto fat) she has now.

And all those hours spent in the gym? Doing hours of cardio and minimal weight-training is actually degrading her muscle mass even further, as that is what happens with chronic long distance training and no weight-training. Ever noticed a marathon runner who still looks “fat?” Reason being, her body is smart and will do anything to keep functioning enough to live. Conserving energy is at top of the list. Muscle growth and fat burning is at the bottom of the list. This is why she cannot lose the “last 10 pounds.” The same can happen to men! Men and women have learned how to really eat in the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge! If you are going hard in the gym, without seeing progress in performance or body composition, you are most likely under eating in protein , as well as fat intake, and overeating in carbohydrates — but that is another blog post. Simply put, you must eat enough protein to keep the muscle mass you have on your body. If you do not, your muscle will slowly deteriorate. If losing body fat or changing you body composition is the goal, then this would be bad-news-bears. The more muscle you have, the more energy and body fat you will burn while at rest. So keep the muscle you already have by eating enough protein through out your day is crucial! In the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge we teach you how to gradually get in the habits of eating more plants and protein. Over the course of 12 weeks you will learn why all of this is so important, and even more importantly how to fit these habits in your lifestyle.