“All of us are self-made, but only the successful are willing to admit it.” -Earl Nightingale
As I counsel with people and their eating habits one of the most surprising things I have learned is that most people are not getting enough
protein. Especially people who are very active, gaining muscle and/or are trying to lose weight. Let me see if I can convince you to step it up.
CONVINCER #1 Protein has a higher
thermogenic effect than carbohydrates or fat. That means that more calories are required to digest protein and that can actually increase your metabolism
. While fat
has the thermogenic effect of 0-3%, carbohydrates of 5 -10% protein has 20-30%. That
means if you eat a 300 calories of protein 75 – 80 calories will be spent digesting it.
CONVINCER #2 Protein digests slower.
No matter how great your carbohydrates are they will still go to fat faster than protein.
CONVINCER #3 Protein is a muscle builder. Without adequate protein you will not maximize the benefits of your muscle building workouts. One of the major benefits of muscle is that muscle also boosts metabolism.
CONVINCER #4 Protein is more satisfying. Advertisers like to point to studies where people with a high fiber breakfast eat less at the next meal. But guess what works better than cereal. Protein! People who eat eggs for breakfast eat less all day long. Protein helps us feel satisfied better and longer.
There you have four great reasons for eat
ing protein to lose or maintain weight. Here is one more for fun.
BONUS CONVINCER The You Docs had an article in the Statesman recently touting protein and quoting evidence that eating a little more protein can help prevent wrinkles.
So how much protein should you eat? Even the experts can’t agree exactly, but I write for active people and people trying to lose weight. I find that people get the best results if they aim for the higher end of the spectrum. Here are two ways to measure it. You might be a little startled at first glance but stay with me.
METHOD #1 Eat one gram of protein for .75 of every pound you weigh. If you weigh a 160 pounds you would need 120
gram of protein. If you eat six meals a day, and I hope you do, you would need to average 20 grams per meals. That sounds like a lot but each gram of protein is only 4 calories, so our 160 pound person is only eating 480 calories of protein. If you are very active you will actually need to add a little more. For example a man who is body building would eat at least one gram of protein for every pound he weighs.
METHOD #2 Measure your calories and make sure that 40% are protein, 40% are good carbohydrates and 20% are fat.
The second method takes more work so I prefer the first. I don’t like calorie counting. It keeps us obsessed
with food but perhaps it will help for a short period of time while you are developing new habits.
A note here: In most of the population cholesterol is not increased by dietary cholesterol. Sugar is the real culprit.
The next question is what has protein and how much. Here is a simple list. But a good shortcut is that an ounce of
meat or fish has about 7 grams of protein.
- Hamburger patty, 4 oz – 28 grams protein
- Steak, 6 oz – 42 grams
- Most cuts of beef – 7 grams of protein per ounce
- Chicken breast, 3.5 oz – 30 grams protein
- Chicken thigh – 10 grams (for average size)
- Drumstick – 11 grams
- Wing – 6 grams
- Chicken meat, cooked, 4 oz – 35 grams
- Most fish fillets or steaks are about 22 grams of protein for 3 ½ oz (100 grams) of cooked fish, or 6 grams per ounce
- Tuna, 6 oz can – 40 grams of protein
- Pork chop, average – 22 grams protein
- Pork loin or tenderloin, 4 oz – 29 grams
- Ham, 3 oz serving – 19 grams
- Ground pork, 1 oz raw – 5 grams; 3 oz cooked – 22 grams
- Canadian-style bacon (back bacon), slice – 5 – 6 grams
Eggs and Dairy
- Egg, large – 6 grams protein
- Milk, 1 cup – 8 grams
- Cottage cheese, ½ cup – 15 grams
- Yogurt, 1 cup – usually 8-12 grams, check label
- Soft cheeses (Mozzarella, Brie, Camembert) – 6 grams per oz
- Medium cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss) – 7 or 8 grams per oz
- Hard cheeses (Parmesan) – 10 grams per oz
- Tofu, ½ cup 20 grams protein
- Tofu, 1 oz, 2.3 grams
- Soy milk, 1 cup – 6 -10 grams
- Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc) about 7-10 grams protein per half cup of cooked beans
- Soy beans, ½ cup cooked – 14 grams protein
- Split peas, ½ cup cooked – 8 grams
Nuts and Seeds
- Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons – 8 grams protein
- Almonds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
- Peanuts, ¼ cup – 9 grams
- Cashews, ¼ cup – 5 grams
- Pecans, ¼ cup – 2.5 grams
- Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup – 6 grams
- Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
- Flax seeds – ¼ cup – 8 grams
If you weigh more than you should chances are you spend a lot of your creative energy thinking about it. Life is too short to spend it frustrated about weight. Let’s just take care of it and move on to other things! I promise you that you can be lean and strong. Our potential is almost limitless and the journey to reach that potential is the best part.
“Success lies in the effort, not the attainment. Full effort is full victory.” -Mahatma Gandhi