Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beefing (or tofu-ing?) up the Protein

My trainer told me I needed to have at least 60 grams of protein per day, and he'd like me to ramp it up closer to 100 grams. Sounds fine until you start trying to add protein without also adding overall calories to your daily intake. I've discovered over just the week or so since he gave me this directive, that it's very hard to eat that much protein.

Luckily for me, I do eat animal products, which are good protein sources. But most of my diet consists of fruits, vegetables and grains, with meat, cheese and other dairy products as supplements. To reach that 60-100-gram goal, it would mean figuring out palatable ways to add eggs or dairy to my ("good") carb heavy breakfast; to always have meat or cheese at lunch; and to make sure there's a slab of protein on our dinner plates every night. Tall order!
I have purchased protein powder, but a scoop of it (dissolved in water) gives me only 14 grams along with 80 calories. (I don't really have room in my daily calorie total for "extra" ones, so I have to stop at one dose of the powder.) Beans, edamame and other forms of soy, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and peanut butter also provide hits of protein, although it takes quite a few helpings to get anywhere near that 60 grams. Truly, the fastest way to get there seems to be with meat.
Oh, and why did the trainer insist on this dietary change? It has to do with making my muscles more efficient along with giving me better results of the time I put into strength training and other exercises. Also (I searched on Google for more info) protein gives us energy, helps fight off illness and is essential for tissue repair after any injury.
All that said, this list will give you some ideas about protein sources. As you can see, once you get outside the range of meat, it takes some effort to get a daily total above 60 grams.

FOOD                                                    GRAMS OF PROTEIN
Steak, 6 ounces                                        42
Hamburger, 4 ounces                                28
Chicken breast, 4 ounces                          35
Tuna, 6-ounce can                                    40
Salmon fillet, 4 ounces                              24
Pork tenderloin, 4 ounces                         30
Milk, 1 cup                                                8
Egg, 1 whole                                              6
Cottage cheese, 1 cup                              15
Yogurt, 1 cup                                         6-10
Cheeses, 1 ounce                                   6-10
Tofu, 1/2 cup                                          20
Soy milk, 1 cup                                      8-10
Beans, 1/2 cup                                       8-10
Peanut butter, 2 T                                    8
Other nuts, 1/4 cup                               3-9



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