Protein. Misunderstood, and underutilitzed. It's made up of amino acids, which are like little chainlinks of organic compounds that make up lean body tissue; promoting healthy muscles, but also hair, skin, bones, and nails. It's not just for the big, buff meatheads at the gym. It does wonders for everyone. The amino acids in protein are classified into 3 groups: essential (cannot be made by the body, must come from food), nonessential (our bodies make it), and conditional (not usually essential, except when sick or stressed).
How much protein should I have. It's an excellent question, I'm glad you asked. Generally, women don't consume enough protein, and men do, but too much of the same kind. That's right, protein sources need to be rotated to keep the gut working properly. When I say protein, what do you generally think of first? A protein shake? A 16 oz steak? A cheese stick? A handful of nuts? While all four are correct, some are higher in protein than others. Most people buy whey protein powder. That's milk protein. Paleo protein is beef isolate. There are also pea, hemp, soy, rice, casein (which is a milk protein separated at production differently than whey) varieties.
So here's the answer: the recommended daily allowance (RDA), which is the minimum you need to be healthy, is 0.8 grams per kilogram (0.38 grams per pound) of body weight per day-46 grams for an average woman. That equals as little as 10% of daily calories. Because most non-protein powder sources (animal, nuts) are also high in fat, women are generally more cautious about consuming protein from these sources. Don't be!
General protein recommendations (2-3 day/week exerciser):
Your weight (lbs) X .5g = total DAILY protein intake
i.e. 125lb female x.5g = 62.5g daily protein needed
Athlete or consistent with resistance training:
Your weight (lbs) x .75g = total DAILY protein intake
i.e. 200lb Male x .75g = 150g daily protein needed
*These are general recommendations. Please keep in mind everyone is different depending on activity level, body fat percentage, type of diet, etc.
We'll be mythbusting fat in a follow-up email, but for now, start tracking how much protein you're getting and begin to fill your protein gap, without freaking out about the fat. I wouldn't be surprised if you felt better, had more energy, began to glow again, and see the scale smile back up at you!
Thank you for investing in your health!
Joseph Champa, RD, CSCS