Protein is a fundamental staple of a lean healthy aesthetic diet. Eating the right amounts for your body helps with repairing muscles, building more muscle, and even increasing daily energy. The mystery for most is knowing the healthiest sources of protein and the necessary amount for your body.
Importance of Protein
Protein is the key building nutrient in our body and is used to carry out all types of metabolic functions. Every cell in our body needs protein at some level. Our bones, our nerves, and our tissues are all made of protein. Protein makes up 15-20% of our body weight and thus, next to water, ranks second as the body’s most abundant substance. Protein is responsible not only for building muscles but maintaining the muscle we already have. And so eating enough protein ensures that our bodies will have enough of the raw materials (amino acids) needed to not only KEEP what muscle we have but be able to REPAIR AND BUILD as we progress forward in our training and physique aesthetic. Metabolically, protein also has the highest “thermic effect” of all three macronutrients. This means your body burns more calories digesting them as compared to carbs and fats. This helps to elevate your metabolic rate which is key to getting and maintaining a low body fat level while building a great physique.
(For more on “Thermic Effect” download BODYTALK and check out Chapter 2.)
Foods Rich in Protein
Choose protein rich sources that digest well for you. Everybody’s body is different. These are my main staples everyday. I shop at Costco! They are the best!!!
Eating protein rich foods with every feeding helps your body feel more satiated and this in turn works as a natural appetite suppressant. However, as in most areas of life, too much of a good thing can still work against you. This equally applies to your aesthetic physique goals. If too much protein is consumed on a regular basis your body can convert it over to energy, and if that energy is excess energy it will get stored away as fat. Obviously we don’t want this. The same also is true for excess carbohydrates. But what sets protein apart from carbs and fats is that protein contains the compound nitrogen which is an important compound essential to your body. Amino acids all contain nitrogen and these are the building blocks that make up the proteins in your hair, muscles, skin and other important tissues. Nitrogen is an important part of your DNA, which defines what you are like in many ways. The amount of nitrogen present within your body will determine whether or not your will build, maintain, or lose muscle.
How much protein do you need?
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for the United States is 0.4g/lbs. This equates to 80 grams of protein per day for a 200 lb person like myself. This number is actually FAR too low for me to maintain the muscle I have or repair and build new tissue. Let’s not even talk about keeping me satiated! The thing to keep in mind about RDA is that the studies are based on non-active, sedentary people. So look at RDA as the bare minimum for daily survival. Daily survival does not equal optimal performance, health, or aesthetics.
For most people who live an active lifestyle and are working towards maintaining and building lean muscles while keeping their body fat low, I find that 0.7-1.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight works best. This looks like 140g – 260 grams of protein per day for a 200 lb person. These amounts are easily attained by eating complete protein sources like chicken, eggs, and fish every time you feed your body.
Best sources of complete protein
I can’t say it enough– if you want to grow, you need to eat. If you want to get leaner, you need to eat! Your body needs a consistent supply of protein throughout your day to reach your aesthetic physique goals. Here are some of my favorite and most popular protein-rich foods for your consumption enjoyment.
Chicken and Turkey breast are great convenient protein options. They are protein filled and very low in fat which makes them great for building muscle and staying lean. Often times dark meat is said not to be a good option but I find that skinless chicken thighs and drumstick are a great option for protein and they help break up the monotony of chicken/turkey breast. Just make sure to remove the skin before eating. The skin contains a lot of saturated fat. Tasty yes. But counterproductive to our physique goals. Lean ground turkey and ground chicken are also great versatile options that can be added to your diet.
Seafood is one of the best sources of protein because they are very low in fat and easily digestible. Some fishes like Salmon are “fattier” fish but these are heart-healthy fat called omega-3 fatty acids. These are those good fats we hear so much about. Personally, I have a 7oz fillet of salmon every day just for this reason.
Milk, Cheese, Cottage Cheese, & Yogurt are all great sources of protein. Not only do they contain protein but calcium which play a key role in bone health and muscle contractions. To keep lean and aesthetic, choose low fat or skim dairy options so you get the nutrients without the excess dietary fat.
Whole Eggs & Egg Whites
Eggs are a very simple and inexpensive form of protein. One whole egg packs 6 grams of protein and 70 calories. One egg white packs 3 grams of protein and only 12 calories. Egg yolks often get a bad wrap due to the dietary cholesterol but the real threat to high cholesterol is saturated and trans fats, not dietary cholesterol. Years ago, when scientists learned that high blood cholesterol was associated with heart disease, foods high in cholesterol were thought to be the leading cause of unhealthy blood cholesterol. Now, decades later, scientists have come to the conclusion that cholesterol in food is not the true villain — saturated and trans fats have a much greater effect on blood cholesterol. Your body actually needs the cholesterol in meat and eggs to make testosterone, which helps to increase energy and helps to build more calorie-building muscle. But when/if in doubt, get blood work done and know how your body is or isn’t affected. At any rate, there are many other nutrients contained in the yolk that is not present in the whites that our body benefits from such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin D
Lean Red Meats
Stick to lean cuts of red meat like top round, lean sirloin, flank, lean ground meat. Lean cuts are much lower in saturated fats and are loaded with muscle-building protein along with zinc, iron, and B12.
Protein powders offer a convenient option to traditional meals. They come in all types of flavors and are easy to have when you are on the move. When/If choosing a protein powder, keep it simple. Make sure a serving size allows you to hit your protein grams while keeping your sugar content low. Don’t be enamored with claims of fast gains. Nothing in this process is fast other than quitting. And quitting just isn’t an option for you!
So eat your proteins and eat them often. Your lean physique depends on it!
“Train Dirty, Eat Clean, & Sleep like a baby” ~Coach