A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Are You Getting Enough (Protein, that is!)?

UPDATED 4/1/15 -- Join me in taking the 30 Day Protein Challenge during the month of April!
The 30 Day Protein Challenge is an exciting, easy-to-follow plan to add protein-rich foods to your daily life. It focuses on feeling satisfied and energized after meals, which could lead to less snacking and eating out of boredom. It also helps you understand how the foods you eat affect your mood.

Start the Protein Challenge today and you'll receive a quick email every day for 30 days - each containing a goal for the day plus great tips, advice and inspiration to help keep you dialed in for the entire challenge.

What are you waiting for?! Take control of your appetite and kick start the benefits you'll get from balancing your protein consumption.

I recently downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and started tracking my calorie consumption. As usual, I gained about 10 pounds this winter. The only problem is winter isn't over and I can't afford to gain 10 more! But mostly I wanted to start tracking my consumption of carbohydrates, fat and (especially) protein. After two weeks of recording everything that goes in my mouth I am embarrassed to admit that I, BEEFMAN, have been under consuming protein!

That's right, as much as I talk about the benefits of eat beef, I have not been eating enough beef, dairy, beans, nuts and other sources of protein. Part of the reason is because I underestimated the amount of protein my body needs every day. I had always heard that the recommended daily value (RDV) for protein was 50 grams, based on the average 2,000 calorie-a-day diet.

The first problem with that is I am not average. I am 6'4" tall, 225 lbs. (in winter) and physically active (I work out at least five times a week for 30 minutes, significantly more when I am training for an event like Ride the Rockies). When I punched this info into MyFitnessPal, with a goal to lose one pound per week, it came back with a daily calorie goal of 2,280! And that's to lose weight (the BEEFWIFE doesn't appreciate the fact that men do burn calories faster, especially big guys)!

The other problem is that is the RDV for protein is a minimum number. After doing a little research I learned about Accepted Macronutrient Distribution Ranges, or AMDRs. As it turns out the AMDR for protein is 10-35% of calories. According to this protein calculator my daily protein needs would be 77 grams at the low end (10%) and 269 grams at the high end (35%) when I set it to "moderately active." 

Recent research on protein has found that "Protein at around 25-30% of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets." In addition, consuming higher amount of protein helps you feel full longer, reducing overall calorie consumption. So I decided to set my goal for protein at 20% of calories, or about 150-170 grams per day depending on physical activity level. That's a lot of beef! Of course, I also get protein from other sources like nuts, legumes and dairy products (love Greek yogurt and cottage cheese in the morning).

One of the reasons I am focusing on protein is that it is important to me to make sure I don't lose muscle mass as I age. Maintaining muscle mass gets harder as you age. There's actually a name for the condition: sarcopenia (like osteoporosis is to bone loss). As I age I want to maintain muscle mass so I can be physically active for a long time (I want to be one of those guys doing Ride the Rockies in my 70s!).

So the bottom line is I need to increase my protein intake and I'm trying to do it without turning to protein shakes, but it's hard. Seriously. It's hard to get enough protein while staying within calorie and fat goals, especially with plant-based sources of protein, which often come with more calories per gram of protein than beef.

With beef, especially lean cuts, I can get 8 grams of protein for just about 50 calories. Beef jerky makes a great high protein, low fat, low carb snack (I've been known to eat a whole bag for lunch!). I've also added Greek yogurt and TrueMoo Protein Plus protein fortified chocolate milk after workouts (real milk with 14 grams of protein per serving and the right amount of carbs for post workout recovery).

Have you used MyFitnessPal? Do you have a hard time getting the protein you need every day? Please share any tips you have (other than shakes and bars, I prefer real food!).

Ride on!


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