Warning: There is no magic found below. Getting enough protein requires planning, cooking, and eating. Sorry to disappoint but you are going to have to do the work. Cool? Awesome, keep reading.
Guess what? Protein is your friend, especially if your goal is fat loss and/or muscle gain. You need it….quite a bit of it. The most common macro most new clients struggle to hit is protein. There are a few reason why this is the case.
#1: Most people don’t eat enough.
I know, that’s not what you have heard. I can tell you that in the many years I have been a nutrition coachin I have NEVER had a new client who is eating too much protein. Most people are undereating protein and it can be a challenge to get enogh.
#2: There aren’t that many sources.
High protein, low calorie (high in fat and/or carbs) options are limited. If you are trying to lean out and your ratio of protein to carbs/fats presents a challenge your options are even more limited. But there are options. We will talk about them more later.
#3: Not convenient.
Most good sources of protein (taste good & satieting) are not quick and easy. You have to cook. It takes time and planning. Accept it.
#4: Protein is expensive.
In an ideal world I want you eating only really high quality protein. Grass fed, free range, wild caught, organic….etc. However, this isn’t possible for everyone. If it is….AWESOME. Do it. If it isn’t, do what you can. It is far more important to get enough protein (even if from a less than stellar source) than to be constantly under on your protein. Most people need at least 0.7g – 1.2g of protein per lb of lean body mass.
Chicken Breast: The Queen Lean Protein
Chicken breasts are a good source of lean protein. Cook them in bulk to make it convenient. Our favorite way is marinated in citrus, clilantro, salt/pepper, and chipotle powder and throw them on the grill. Chicken thighs are a tastier option but have more fat so might not be the best option for those with lower fat macro numbers.
Eggs (whites or whole)
Ground Beef or Turkey
Dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese)
If you digest dairy well eat it. I’m not a huge fan of reduced fat dairy personally and choose not to eat it but this is a personal choice (feel free to ask me if you want to know why). Eating full fat dairy as a protein source can be difficult if you don’t have a lot of fat macros but again….pick and choose what works for you.
Pork chops and loin are the leanest choices.
Protein Supplements (whey/egg white/beef/etc protein powder)
Bars and shakes are super conveneint and can help you hit your protein goals if you struggle to reach it on the daily. However, if you often find yourself hungry try to stick with real food (stuff you have to chew). Protein supplements are very macro expensive and not very satieting.
If you are constantly finding yourself lacking protein take the time to plan out your day. If you have 135g of protein to eat in a day, break it up. Over 5 meals (one post workout shake and caesin protein before bed) you only need to consume approx. 23g of protein per day (leaving room for small amounts of protein in other foodsy you consume during the day).
23g protein = approx 4 oz of most protein sources
An average protein serving per in 3 meals plus a post workout shake and caesin protein before bed is pretty simple.
The Good News
While it can be challenging to hit your protein numbers during a cut (due to a reduction in carbs/fats) it doesn’t last forever. The average cut only lasts 8-16 weeks if done right. Clearly identify your goals and be fullly aware of the sacrifices necessary to achieve those goals. A good nutrition coach can help you find the right balance for your lifestyle.