Mission Possible: Hitting Your Protein Intake
While all macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) are essential for a balanced diet, building habits around protein intake can be the best place to start. When we think about protein, we know that it is crucial for muscle growth and repair. But its role in the body affects metabolism, energy expenditure, satiety and appetite regulation, preservation of lean body mass, promotes bone health, hormone regulation and so much more.
Need some help on how to structure this out? Read through Ange Drake’s (23W director) daily outline for some practical suggestions.
Structuring your protein intake
When you first attempt to hit your protein intake, it can feel like mission impossible. After years of macro tracking, flexible dieting and now intuitive eating I can offer some simple tips that help me.
Start every day with at least 20-30 grams of protein for breakfast. Including foods like eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or a protein smoothie can help you kickstart your metabolism and provide sustained energy throughout the morning. I aim for 30 grams of protein in this meal
I usually train around 8 or 9 am. After training I always consume a high protein, higher carb snack, like a protein smoothie, oats with greek yoghurt, protein bar or a small handful of nuts and a banana. I aim for 15-20 grams of protein in this meal. Sometimes, I also fuel up with a BCAA before training if I need a little pick me up, delay fatigue or extra energy hit to get through a session. Or I chug it after a workout if I don’t have time to have a high protein snack before coaching on the gym floor. It basically tastes like cordial so it is very easy to drink so it is also very hydrating.
I always plan my lunch meal around the protein sources. This could include grilled chicken, mince meat, fish, tofu, or legumes. Combine it with complex carbohydrates like quinoa, brown rice, or whole-grain bread, and plenty of vegetables for a balanced meal. I aim for 20-30 grams of protein in this meal.
Afternoon snack: I can not get through to dinner without a little snack in between. This meal is designed to curb afternoon cravings and maintain energy levels, opt for snacks that offer a small protein boost. This could include cottage cheese with fruits, protein smoothies, or a small portion of beef jerky, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and apple, hummus and veggies or a boiled egg. I aim for 5-10 grams of protein in this meal.
Similar to lunch, make sure to include a protein source as the main component of your dinner. You can have grilled or baked fish, lean meat, or plant-based protein options like lentils or chickpeas. This serve is usually a little larger than my lunchtime portion. If I am looking to drop body fat, this meal is a little lighter in starchy carbohydrates while rich in fibre. I aim for 30-40 grams of protein in this meal.
If you find yourself hungry in the evening, choose a light protein-rich snack. Options such as a small serving of Greek yogurt and berries or watermelon, a protein shake, or a handful of edamame can help curb cravings. I often eat dinner around 6pm and I hate going to bed hungry. A little snack before bed helps me sleep well at night. I aim for 5-10 grams of protein in this meal if any at all.
Remember to spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day to support muscle repair and growth. Additionally, staying well-hydrated and incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help you maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
Want to learn more about protein intake?
Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.
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