Good Afternoon Team! Today, we're talking Protein! I want to assure you that this blog post is not simply going to be about grilled chicken, egg whites and turkey because “they’re the best proteins”. This is about learning to implement such a valuable and crucial component to our overall health. I understand the trend is rather extreme when it comes to “dieting”. An all or nothing approach if you will. Food is something we are going to learn to have work for us, not against us.
When it comes to a finding varieties of different proteins, it can be tricky & the grocery stores surely aren’t going to make it easier to pick the “right” protein. But, we know we need plenty of protein for muscle growth and recovery, so what’s the issue? Surely all proteins are created equal, right? Well…not so much. Keeping the same proteins in your diet all the time is okay – in fact, it’s far better than not getting enough protein – but the point is, eating the foods you love and in abundance can be even more effective if you don’t get burnt out on eating them in the first month. In comes a little mindfulness!
Let’s not make things complicated when it comes to actually eating enough protein. The general idea is, simply be diverse on a fairly frequent basis with where you’re getting your protein from.
But First, let's be clear. It’s quite possible to build up an intolerance to a foods you eat too much of. This is different to developing a full-blown food allergy, but if you constantly rely on the same foods for your protein, your body can stop producing the enzymes needed to break down the foods fully, and you start feeling bloated, gassy and get some digestive discomfort. If this starts happening, it’s a wise idea to completely remove the problem food for 4 to 6 weeks before introducing it slowly again. Or, we diversify our sources or proteins!
Have More Fun With Food
Eating the same foods over and over again just gets boring. Sure, it might make it easier because you don’t have to think about your nutrition if you’re just following a set meal plan that doesn’t change from day to day, but eating shouldn’t be about monotony. Dieting can actually be fun, and if your “diet” has you eating foods that you don’t like – or even that you just find bland – you’re not going to stick at it for long.
We’re conditioned to just thinking of those 3 things – chicken breast, egg whites and steak – as the 3 “top” protein sources, but what else is out there? Now is the time to get creative, check out your local stores, shop around, and see what other high-protein foods you can bring into your plan. Let’s have a look at a few now.
Chicken is all well and good, but what about turkey? It’s generally leaner than chicken, meaning you can save some fat macros for more peanut butter (or any nut butter)! Another option is to skip the breast, and get chicken or turkey wings and legs. These are higher in fat but much more flavorsome. You could even try duck, goose or quail if you’re feeling bold!
You’ve got beef, pork and lamb, but what about game meats?
Elk, bison, buffalo, kangaroo and venison – all taste amazing. Most of these are pretty lean, but offer a much gamier taste than the “big 3” of beef, pork and lamb. Just as with poultry, there are so many different types and cuts of red meat. You can get macro-friendly bacon and sausages, different types of chops and steaks, look for shoulder, leg or belly meat, and even opt for burgers – either shop-bought or homemade.
White fish – tilapia, tuna, cod and so on – work as a fantastic low-fat, low-calorie protein source. Seafood fits the bill here too. Oily fish – salmon, mackerel, pilchards, etc. are higher in calories, but contain plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
So eggs are basically eggs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t switch between whole eggs and just whites, or simply cook your eggs in different ways – boiled, poached, fried, scrambled, or as an omelette or frittata.
Dairy gets a bad rap, but it’s amazing! Full of calcium, vitamins, minerals and protein, there are so many choices. All types of milk are a quick, easy protein source, as are low-fat Greek yogurt, quark, cream cheese, hard cheese and cottage cheese. If you need a bit more fat in your diet, then the full-fat versions are fine too – just watch that those fat macros don’t add up too much.
What About Veggies?
Us meat-eaters often struggle to get protein in, and it can be even more troublesome for vegetarians, but it is doable to meet protein requirements on a vegetarian diet.
In fact, it’s pretty easy. My vegetarian clients eat a tonne of dairy and eggs or egg whites, but they also include beans and pulses like lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans and butter beans. I also like quinoa and buckwheat. Some soy products are perfectly acceptable too, but try to stick to real soy beans (edamame) or unprocessed tofu, tempeh and miso, rather than a load of “fake foods” like soy milk and chips.
If you’re still struggling, supplements can be useful. Bars, cookies and flapjacks all make easy, tasty snacks, as do protein powders. Go with a basic whey, casein, or a blended protein powder. Or, if you’re on a non-animal diet, hemp, soy, rice and pea protein all work fine.
Finally, the only thing this article is for you is an ingredient. A simple yet crucial dietary must that will forever work against you until you take control & make protein work for you!
That's what being flexible and knowledgeable can do for you. Interesting, huh?
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