You are what you eat. Overall I’d say that I am on track with my plan for better. I eat well about 80% of the time, workout 4-5 times per week, and I’m generally winning the war against my vices although I lose a few battles here and there. My workouts focus on strength and my diet favors healthful fare over processed junk food.
I feel like I’m on the right path but progress, especially in terms of building muscle, often seems slow and tedious. I wanted to find a way to shift the balance of my lifestyle to accelerate the gains from the hard work that I have been putting into diet and exercise.
Enter the protein experiment. After some casual research, I’ve decided to experiment with measuring and manipulating my protein intake to make the most of my investment at the gym to help my body build muscle.
I’ll continue doing what I have been doing in terms of eating and strength training but with an increased focus on diet. I’m not counting calories and not concerned with the amounts of food that I am eating, although I will continue to keep an eye on things like carbs and sugars – instead my focus will be on measuring my protein intake against my results.
My experiment targets protein intake of 150g per day. 165 is roughly my body weight. How did I choose this number?
How much protein? When should I eat protein? (Source: http://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/post-workout-shakes?fullpage=true)
For general health and weight loss for active men, Aragon recommends consuming about 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight, erring on the higher side. (One caveat: Trained athletes cutting calories may need to consume more than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.) The benefits of eating more protein are great, he says, helping to preserve lean body mass (particularly important if you’re cutting calories to lose weight), raising metabolism, and increasing satiety.
My Weight 165lbs. X .9 = 149g protein/day
Some additional info about protein: http://greatist.com/protein
Can you have too much protein? http://greatist.com/health/how-much-protein-too-much
I’m three weeks in and eating nearly 150g of protein is much harder than I thought it would be. Each meal I am tracking protein content but not calories, or fat or carbs, etc. I’ll track my weight once a week with the expectation that weight will actually increase as I build muscle and drop some fat.
So here are some of the tools (foods) that I have been using to up my protein intake daily.
- Hemp or Whey protein – I can get about 15-30g in a shake.
- Fish, chicken and steak – Perhaps the best option for adding 30+ grams of protein to a meal.
- Eggs – 7g per egg
- Seeds and nuts – 10g per serving – raw almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds.
- Protein bars – Some bars have a whopping 20g P each.
- Almond/Peanut butter – about 8g per serving (I really like this almond butter from Zinke Orchards)
This is not an exact science but my measurements have come as shown below.
Like I said, not easy but I am getting closer. The dips happen on the weekends when I tend to focus much less on what I am eating – I guess there isn’t much protein in beer! Stay tuned.