Why Does Protein Matter?

by tinareale on July 10, 2012


In case you missed it in my post this past Friday, I did something pretty big last week. I finally ordered my materials to study to become a Fitness Nutrition Specialist! I’ve been looking through the material since then and cannot wait to dive in to further develop the knowledge I have gained over my years of personal study and experience.

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The study will cover so many important topics, such as achieving a balanced diet for various fitness goals and how to properly supply your body with what it needs. One of those things we need to make sure to have in our diets?

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If you guessed PROTEIN, you would be correct. We need protein!!! So essential, yet so easy to skimp on.

I was selected through Glam Media to participate in a “Protein Is Power” campaign from Muscle Milk. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be trying out varieties of the Muscle Milk Protein Nutrition Shake following my workouts. I will do a variety of my regular training…along with some fun circuits from trainer Jen Cohen…then drink the nutrition shakes to help with workout recovery and to get ample protein in my day. I actually used to drink Muscle Milk a lot when training for fitness competitions. It will be fun to bring it back.  I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

In the meantime, though, let’s talk PROTEIN! More importantly – what it does for your body and how much should you generally aim to get in a balanced diet?

Why worry about eating enough protein?

  • Amino acids are what make-up protein. Our body cannot naturally create many of these amino acids, which therefore requires we get them through our food intake. Proper nutrition and consumption of protein helps ensure we have all the amino acids required by our bodies.
  • The body needs protein to perform numerous vital functions:to create enzymes, to act as chemical messengers (hormones) for the body, to help immunity by helping build antibodies, as a source of energy, and also to repair and rebuild tissues such as muscle.
  • The breakdown of the protein in the digestive tract takes more “work” from the body, which helps increase satiety in meals. In other words, you can feel full when eating protein in a meal or snack.

What is enough? How much to eat?

  • The recommended daily allowance for protein consumption is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 140 pound person, that would equate to 45-50 grams of protein.
  • Those involved in heavier training or endurance type training, may need higher amounts. A protein consumption of 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is a general recommendation for those with more intense physical activity.
  • In general, protein will allot for 10%-30% of calories consumed in a balanced diet.

In other words, make sure you fit in some protein regularly! My personal favorites are eggs, beans, the occasional serving of red meat, dairy, and protein supplements.

Your Turn – Do you think you get enough protein? What’s your favorite way to get protein in your diet?

Muscle Milk® is an ideal blend of protein, fats, good carbohydrates and 20 vitamins and minerals to provide sustained energy, spur lean muscle growth and help provide recovery after tough days.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Muscle Milk via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Muscle Milk.

{ 40 comments }

1 Sadie July 10, 2012 at 6:43 am

I’m not a big meat eater so I’m always making sure I get protein from different places. Currently two great sources for me have been cottage cheese because it usually has over 10g per serving (depending on the brand and the milk fat %), and adding some protein powder to my oatmeal in the morning. I need a quick breakfast in the morning so I make Quaker Weight Control instant oatmeal because it has less sugar than normal flavored oatmeal, and 7g of protein. Adding half a scoop of vanilla protein powder and a little almond milk to the mix is my favorite way to eat it!

2 Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good July 10, 2012 at 6:58 am

I do have to make a point of eating enough protein. I could easily skimp just based on my personal taste. I like eggs, beans, nut butters, Greek yogurt as sources of protein. My husband prefers to have meat as part of our dinners, so that helps my protein intake. I’d just as easily skip the meat if not for him.

Thank you for the info. Protein serves more functions than I realized.

3 Chris July 10, 2012 at 7:02 am

I like to mix a can of Tuna Fish with about 1 tbs. of light mayo, cut a red bell pepper in half and spread the tuna in the pepper halves, then cut into bite size chunks. Yummy!

4 Fancy Nancy July 10, 2012 at 7:22 am

I always go back and forth on getting enough protein. My hubby is all about getting in the protein but I need to be better about it! I do have to say though that nothing is better than finishing a long run for me and opening up a Muscle Milk shake! I look forward to it!!!

5 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table July 10, 2012 at 7:28 am

Hooray for protein! I’m aiming for 1.5g per pound. It’s not easy, but OMG – it IS paying off. My muscles are actually growing (I don’t know why I didn’t believe this was really going to work). Great post!

6 tinareale July 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Ah, the fitness comp protein consumption. It does work, though. ;)

7 Victoria July 10, 2012 at 7:39 am

I just re-tried Muscle Milk again and to my surprised, I liked it. Last time, I’m not sure why I didn’t or what was going on– but after my brick workout on Sunday, I sucked down that Vanilla Creme and my body felt so recovered on Monday for my run with my run group! Love it and can’t wait to keep it in arms reach for after hard workouts!

8 Alicia at Poise in Parma July 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

I try hard to keep my protein intake high. Sometimes the hardest part is remembering to defrost something from the freezer! I feel like your point about staying full on protein is dead on: lots of great info here!

9 tinareale July 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Haha! Remember to take things out of the freezer gets us all the time too when we have meat.

10 Danica @ It's Progression July 10, 2012 at 8:10 am

Protein is the thing I seem to always have to consciously decide to choose at every meal, for whatever reason and like you said, it’s easy to bypass! I don’t know how I feel about muscle milk though due to its several questionable ingredients, but I do my best to incorporate protein naturally into my diet because I know it’s really important.

11 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat July 10, 2012 at 8:31 am

I focus on getting enough since becoming vegetarian, but it wasn’t something I thought about as a meat-eater.

12 Amy Lauren July 10, 2012 at 8:43 am

I really like getting protein from Greek yogurt and also seafood like shrimp. I’ve never had muscle milk but I do drink the protein shakes with 22g protein after I lift weights, they’re really tasty and a contain a ton of protein. I also got some PB2, which is powdered peanut butter, to mix into shakes and smoothies, and it adds 5g protein!

13 Alex @ therunwithin July 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

this is always great to read, i love learning more about protein and how much we should have. always so helpful!

14 Kierston July 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

I never go without Protein! There’s Protein in every meal/snack I eat :)

I’m just finishing up my course in Nutrition! I’m totally loving it!

15 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey July 10, 2012 at 9:27 am

I think I get enough protein! As a vegetarian it’s really important for me to pay attention to that!

16 Sonya July 10, 2012 at 9:47 am

I always make sure to get at least 50 grams of protein, greek yogurt and almonds are my choice if snacks daily.

17 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) July 10, 2012 at 9:54 am

Ever since I studied nutrition, my main goal in eating is focused around protein. It has made a huge difference in my muscle recovery after workouts and I seriously feel stronger. I have noticed some side effects though to the increase in protein that include sweating more and being a bit thirstier, due to the increased nitrogen in the body. These things do level off though once your body gets used to it.

18 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries July 10, 2012 at 10:10 am

i’m pretty sure i get enough protein. some of my favorite foods are protein packed – nuts and nut butters, chicken, fish, beans, greek yogurt, cottage cheese.

19 Jessica @ Sweet Tooth Gets Healthy July 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

I’ve been focusing on getting more protein lately, and I’ve noticed that I’m staying full a lot longer! It’s helpful to see some guidelines for how much we should have. My favorite source is greek yogurt!

20 Kim @ Redefining Kim July 10, 2012 at 10:56 am

I use chicken breast, beans, and greek yogurt as my main protein sources. I need to add a protein powder to the mix, for those days when I need a quick protein source post workout.

21 Lisa @ Jogging on Coffee July 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thanks for the info! I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time but I’ve only really paid attention to getting enough protein in the last year or so. I just wrote a post on some of my favorite sources, but if I had to pick one I’d probably go with greek yogurt :)

22 Lisa July 10, 2012 at 11:38 am

I definitely get enough protein, I don’t et meat too often but I still eat lots of nut butters, seeds, tempeh, a little protein powder, and 2% greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. I think when I increased my protein intake it helped me significantly with muscle recovery after intense workouts

23 Cat @ Breakfast to Bed July 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I am trying to get more protein. It is difffficult. I like plants.

24 Annette@FitnessPerks July 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I LOVE me some protein. SO true. Oh boy does our bodies use it well when we train too! :) I love eggs, cheese, Greek yogurt, and my beloved whey protein powder.

25 Tamara July 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I eat even more than that recommendation; I weigh 145 lbs and aim for 100 g each day.

Protein has the same calorie count per gram as carbohydrates and keeps me feeling full and energized for much longer!

I’ve always felt the recommendations in my Personal Training manuals to be rather low. What are your thoughts?

26 tinareale July 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I think the recommendations are sufficient for a healthy diet and for general training. However, with more intense and regular training (like many of us fitness/health bloggers participate in) I think we can eat more without negative side effects and that our bodies will use those extra grams. I think when it gets to aiming for 1-2 grams per pound of bodyweight for an everyday eating style (so you aiming for 150+ grams per day for example) is when it gets excessive. That’s my personal opinion. I usually get close to 80-100g a day based on my best estimate off the top of my head too.

27 Molly Ritterbeck July 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

This is a lot of information to lookt hrough and thank you for putting it all in once spot!

28 Lisa July 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm

When I increased my protein intake, my body thanked me immediately. I FELT so much better, I worked out better, I lost a few pounds…it really does make a difference what you eat.

29 Kelly July 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I definitely get too much protein. I eat protein with every meal. Usually eggs in the morning, chicken for lunch and then fish for dinner…with a shake thrown in for a snack. I love protein. I try to balance it out by always eating enough fiber and by drinking water. I drink over 100 ounces of water a day. I gravitate towards protein so I have to sometimes force myself to not eat it.

30 Morgan @ Life After Bagels July 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I know I get enough protein but I worry about my bf since he’s quite a bit bigger than I am and a bit pickier when eating vegetarian meals (which most of ours are because I’m the cook here and I’m a vegetarian)

31 Ashley Pomes July 10, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I eat a lot more protein now. In the past I had very little protein but now I aim to have about 3 ounces with breakfast 4-5 with lunch 5-7 with dinner, 2 ounces with a snack. I also use protein powder to get the protein up since i was so deficient so long.

32 Amanda @RunToTheFinish July 10, 2012 at 7:39 pm

apparently i’m having trouble absorbing protein, so hey if you run across info on that :)

I just ordered my materials to start a personal training certification and I’ll take it from there…wohoo look at us go!

33 Pavement Runner July 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Thanks for the reminder on protein. Always good to know what you are putting in and what you are working out. Congrats on the journey.

34 Charissa July 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I’ve been tracking my protein lately because I really want to make sure I’m getting enough. I average about 70 grams a day maybe – so I’m trying to double it. It’s harder than I thought!

35 Kelly@FitnessAmerica July 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I do try hard to incorporate protein into my diet because I realize how essential it is for a healthy body. I try and use protein as energy for my day by eating egg whites in the morning, as well as throughout the day. I try to incorporate chicken, fish, nuts like almonds and pistachios, as well as the only types of beans I like-edamame. But I never drink protein shakes or eat protein bars, do you think thats a major factor in getting enough protein? Does it help a lot with workout recovery by having something high in protein during the meal after you work out? I usually wait till a few hours later anyway, as I like to cool down and drink a lot of water after a workout.

36 tinareale July 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Based on what you said, i would think you get enough through your regular diet without needing supplemental protein. You certainly don’t NEED those things to get enough protein in your diet. They are more beneficial as a quicker way to get protein, for post-workout recovery, or for those who eat a limited amount elsewhere in the diet.

37 Eva @ committed2nutrition July 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I agree that protein is so important. I notice a huge difference when I eat greek yogurt mixed in my oat bran in the morning vs. when I do not. I am starving 2 hours later w/o the yogurt…whereas when I add it in, I can go 3 to 3.5 hours… on weekends when I eat omelettes at the diner or whatever, I also notice how full I am for hours. I tend to gravitate more towards carbs since I teach a lot of high-itensity Zumba, but every meal definitely includes protein in the form of meat, yogurt, or nut butters, or sometimes whey protein powder. Good luck with the new program, too!

38 Greg Boss July 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Thanks for the tips. A protein rich diet is something that is hard to come by now-a-days, unless you really focus on it. I find it so easy to load up on the carbs, but harder to get protein. When I do its eggs, chicken, greek yogurt, and other meats. I’ve been trying to cut our the carbs and focus on protein as a recovery from exercise, but I’m finding that my energy level is lower so I’m trying to add good carbs in there to balance it out. Either way, thanks for the tips, really enjoy your site!

Greg at Dazadi.com

39 Bek @ Crave July 14, 2012 at 1:30 am

I’ve been amping the protein up with my breakfast lately- egg vegie scramble and egg flipped on wholgrain toast with 2 thin turkey slices. I definitely feel full after that baby!

40 Doug @ Health Habits July 25, 2012 at 7:01 am

In a new study published in the journal Cell, researchers have “mapped out the signals that travel between your gut and your brain to generate the feeling of satiety after eating a protein-rich meal

They studied the feedback loop between your brain & gut and found that the products of digested dietary proteins, block mu-opiod receptors…which effectively kills your appetite.

If anyone wants more info, there is a review of the study here – http://www.hivehealthmedia.com/protein-weight-loss-food/

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