I have seen two nutritionists, both of whom were very helpful, and neither of whom gave me a clear answer on why I don’t have abs yet. But from each of them I got a really great takeaway. This blog post is about the first.
You probably guessed it because it’s in the title. Eat more protein. In fact, my specific prescription was to eat 50% more protein than I was at the time.
IS THIS A GOOD THING?
YES. Yep. Yes. First of all, anytime someone (a nutritionist, no less) tells you to eat MORE, this is a major plus. Second, protein rocks. Here are some things that make protein hardcore:
- Protein makes you feel more full, for longer, than stupid carbs or fats (posers)
- Protein helps build muscle, and having more muscle burns more fat
- Protein helps repair muscle after you’ve been blasting your lats at the gym
- Protein is TASTY. Don’t you just effing LOVE CHICKEN?
HOW CAN I GET MORE OF THIS PROTEIN STUFF?
Eat it. If you’re working out (you should work out, you’ll like it, I promise, I’ll save that for another blog post, but, work out) go nuts on protein. If you aren’t (you should), you don’t need AS MUCH, but in general it’s a pretty safe choice when you’re hungry.
GREAT I WILL GO HAVE A STEAK NOW
Nope! No, don’t do that. Sorry, when I say protein, I mean lean protein. Trust me, I would LOVE to get all my protein from cheese and bacon. That would be so, so nice. But it has to be lean protein. Here are some examples:
- Chicken: chicken breast is the best, you can get like 30 grams of protein from one serving
- Fish: a filet usually has around 20 grams, I always go for the lighter white fish, tilapia is cheap and super easy to cook
- Porkloin or pork chops: around 16 grams, a great tasty alternative after eating grilled chicken for months because that’s all you knew how to cook (hint: pork also is just roasted in the oven)
- Egg whites: three egg whites is around 12 grams of protein. I buy the “all whites” cartons, because it feels like you aren’t wasting the yolks (you still are)
- Cottage cheese: one of those little 4oz serving cups of 2% cottage cheese has 10 grams
- Greek yogurt: oh my god you guys, seriously I already have plans to write an entire post about greek yogurt, it is just the best. One 6oz serving has 18 GRAMS of protein. Just awesome.
- Nuts: I am crazy about almond butter. A serving of 2 tablespoons gives you around 8 grams of protein.
YES BUT HOW DO I APPLY THIS TO SNACKTIME?
OK, yeah so here are some easy snack ideas, as alternatives to granola bars or crackers or other things that are “healthy” but not as beneficial as a snack that incorporates the badass of all nutrients, protein.
- Apple with almond butter
- Cottage cheese: plain or with grapes
- Apple with turkey slices
- BBQ soy crisps with 0% greek yogurt: I swear, this is so good. The nutritionist actually recommended this to me, and I was like 1) ew and 2) that can’t be good for you. Anyway, I was wrong twice.
- Almonds and cashews with dried cranberries: Trader Joe’s has this in a trail mix that’s already in a serving size bag so you don’t accidentally eat 4 servings
- Larabar: these are great because the ingredients are actual foods, not chemicals. The peanut butter cookie ones taste awesome and are just peanuts, dates and salt. And you get 7 grams of protein. Boom.
It’s sort of a no-brainer to focus on protein when you’re having dinner, but not always obvious when going for a snack. If you try, even for a week, making sure your snack always has SOME form of lean protein, you will probably find that it fills you up more, and have grapefruit-sized biceps. Just kidding, you have to work out for that last one. But if you do work out, those grapefruit-sized biceps will thank you for the extra protein (by becoming cantaloupe-sized biceps).
So, while you might not need to be eating 50% more protein than you already are, take a mental measure of how much protein you take in each day, and whether the source is a lean source or a “bacon source.” Try a week with just lean sources, and incorporating protein into all snacks. It’ll be so fun! After you do it for a week, you’ll find it’s pretty easy (and filling). Then you can do it for all of the rest of the weeks, with maybe one day a week off (but please don’t get ALL of your protein from bacon that day).