Some of you will be thinking “no thanks, I don’t want to get bulky” as protein is often associated with muscle building. Which is right, protein is used to build and repair tissues in the body, but that’s not only muscle! We are talking skin, hair and nails too. Protein is also involved in many other processes, such as the correct function of our immune system, the production of hormones and many many more!
We always put an emphasis on protein with our dieting clients and we get them to aim to consume 1.5-2g of protein per kg of body weight.
This might sound like a lot, but as I said protein is used in so many processes so the more the better!
Maybe this number scares you because someone told you that too much protein damages your kidneys? Let us reassure you that this is far from being true. This myth comes from the fact that reducing protein intake can alleviate symptoms for those suffering with kidney disease. But research has shown that those with healthy kidneys (even only one healthy kidney!) will be completely fine if consistently consuming high amounts of protein.
Or maybe you’ve heard that you can’t digest and absorb more than 30g of protein per meal? Again, false! All protein is digested and absorbed, there are plenty of uses for it in the body.
One of the main reasons we often advise to increase protein intake is that it fills you up quickly and keeps you full for longer, which is ideal when on a diet.
People often struggle with this though and here are some tips to help you out:
- Plan your meals around a lean protein source: chicken/turkey breast, lean mince, fat free yogurt/cheese, fish, eggs/egg whites, tofu, whey protein/vegan protein powder, beans and pulses.
- Add a protein source to your snacks: protein shakes, smoothies and coffees are great to fill you up without using too many calories and so are fat free cottage cheese, yogurt and egg white muffins!
- Increase your protein intake for breakfast: add some protein powder to your porridge, use fat free Greek yogurt instead of milk for your cereals, mix some egg whites into your scrambled eggs.
- Be creative with your protein powder: you can have it as a shake, add it to porridge, yogurt, coffee and ice, smoothie, add it to your pancakes and to your baking.
- If you are trying to lose weight, watch out for the fat content of your protein sources! When looking at meat, generally the darker the meat the higher the fat (and calorie) content. So try and stick to chicken and turkey breast, white fish and tuna. If you do pick red meat, make sure you go for a leaner cut (pick sirloin over ribeye, for example) and limit oily fish like salmon to a maximum of twice a week. Egg yolks contain fat, so try and get hold of an egg white carton to bulk up your scrambled eggs and omelette. We love omelettes made with one egg and 5 eggs whites: lots of protein for very little calories, and massive food volume too! The same goes for dairy products: go for no/reduced fat yogurts and cheeses, and try to see if you can wean yourself off adding milk to teas and coffees gradually or at least switch to a low calorie option.
I really hope this is helpful and that you’ll give it a go!