How to Get Your Daily Protein Requirements
How I get to 200g of Protein Everyday
Yeah, 200 grams of Protein. That’s a bunch. But, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that for anyone doing any sort of intense or heavy training volume (or for anyone pursuing body composition), 1 gram per day of protein per pound of body weight is a great target to shoot for. I’m roughly 200 pounds, so I aim for 200 grams of protein per day. Your body weight probably varies, and therefore so should your daily protein number.
I’ve beaten the dead horse for way too long now about why protein is awesome and is the most important, yet under-eaten macro nutrient to do it again here.
When I tell a new client they have to get ___g of Protein per day for their goals, they usually look at me wide eyed and say something like, “___ g! That’s a ton! I’m only eating 50-60g a day now!”
You’re right, that is a ton when you’re only eating 50-60 grams and are just barely on this side of the abysmally low Recommended Daily Allowance (which is the minimum suggested to stay alive). You’re also probably not as lean as you want, don’t recover as well as you want and are likely eating way too much of other, less important macro nutrients that are not helping you towards your goals, so here we are…
Our conversation then turns to how in the world is that even possible? Well it is, and it’s really not that much. If you’ve ever hung out in the competitive world of body composition or body building (I know, I know, you don’t want to look like one of them*), you’ll know that 1g/pound of bodyweight is child’s play. They’ll often go towards 2-3g per pound of bodyweight.
*Side note: you won’t, they’ve worked way harder than you’ll ever know to look like that and they’d be incredibly offended if you suggested that by ingesting a protein shake once a day that you’d get even close to their physique. However, what you should realize is that their entire goal in life is development of muscle and shedding of fat. They’re good at it, really good at it. So, just like you might not want to drive a race car around everyday, you should realize that the people who make race cars are pretty damn good at making regular cars.
So, how do I get my protein goals in everyday, and how can you get to yours?
Well first, let’s start with the easy stuff. Most people eat 3 meals as part of their regular lives. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you’re not currently eating breakfast because you’re doing the latest en vogue fitness trend and Intermittently Fasting, but you’re not getting your daily protein requirements in, you’re putting the cart way in front of the horse, so forget all that nonsense and get your basics down before you start putting lipstick on your pig.
So with breakfast, lunch and dinner, there are 3 opportunities for you to get in 25-30g of protein by just eating a normal (like the size of your fist) serving of protein (lean meat, chicken, fish or pork). This is typically what a restaurant will serve you if you’re eating out. Woo! We’re already at 65-80g and we haven’t really altered anything!
*If you’re shooting for 150g or more per day, you’ll probably want to look for 6-8 oz of protein in these meals. That’s two fist sizes, or a “double protein” request at the restaurant. This will put you in the 130-160g for the day already.
The main challenge I see here is breakfast. Most people aren’t used to making lunch or dinner foods for breakfast, so it’s harder to get that early morning serving up to 25-30g. Or, a lot of people “just aren’t hungry in the morning”. Well, you “just aren’t reaching your goals currently” either.
Here’s what I do:
2 egg whites (8g Protein, 0g Carb, 0g Fat)
2 whole eggs (12g Protein, 0g Carb, 10g Fat)
2 slices bacon (6g Protein, 0g Carb, 6g Fat)
A handful of spinach or kale or some kind of green to scramble in.
For a total of: 26g Protein, 0g Carb, 13g Fat
You may have noticed that I do half egg whites and half whole egg. It’s not that the yolks are bad, or that fat is bad, it’s just that I love bacon, and if I’m going to have bacon for breakfast, I should probably cut some of the overall calories while still getting my protein requirements in. Only eating the egg white is a great way to do that.
*Sometimes, depending on what my day looks like, I’ll have a protein shake with breakfast (putting me near 50g protein for breakfast in total). Especially if I know I won’t get a break between 6am and 1pm with clients, classes and/or meetings.
Feel free to play around as necessary with those options.
Ok, so with breakfast, lunch and dinner we should be somewhere around 75 to 126 grams of protein per day. (Breakfast as listed above: 26g protein, lunch: 25-50g protein, dinner: 25-50g protein by just eating a normal serving of lean meat instead of peanut butter and jelly).
Filling in the gaps from here is where it can get tricky for some folks. Snacks are obviously the easy way to get your numbers up, but what snacks? Most of the current popular snacks are really high in fat or really high in carbohydrates (honestly the amount of nuts you can eat before you’re hit like 1000 calories is offensive). Neither fat nor carbohydrates are necessarily bad, but they aren’t Protein. Any other macronutrients should be secondary until you get your protein number in for the day.
So, how do I do it?
I typically will have at least two of the following throughout the day:
- Low Fat Cottage Cheese (13g protein for 1/2 cup): It’s good plain if you buy the good stuff, I don’t care what you say.
- Low Fat or Non-Fat Yogurt (23g protein for 1 cup or ~50g if you add in protein powder): My favorite is the non-fat, unflavored Wallaby brand with a scoop of chocolate protein powder mixed in, and sometimes a table spoon of peanut butter if it’s being eaten as a dessert or right before bed.
- Protein Shake (~25g protein per scoop): This can include kind of frozen fruit for texture and flavor depending on my other macro goals for the day.
- Hard Boiled Eggs (6g protein per egg): Season these with some sort of salt (truffle salt is the shit), spice or hot sauce and it will make them much more appealing.
- Beef Jerky (7g protein per large piece): Try to go with the best quality stuff you can here.
- Epic Bars (7-12g protein per bar): Though I just recently heard our friends at Thunder’s Catch are doing Salmon Jerky, so I’ll be switching over to those.
- Smoked Salmon (20g protein per 4oz): Sure, it can be kind of expensive when you compare it to a $1.50 Larabar, but it’s damn good, and you can work on it for two snacks instead of one.
- Protein Bar (~20g protein per bar): Most of these are way higher in sugar and carbohydrates than they are protein, so be aware.
- Deli Meat (~25g protein per 4oz): This is one of my favorites and one of the most overlooked. A great, quick, cheap snack is some lean deli meat and a bit of cheese. Make sure this is actually lean. Think turkey, chicken, etc, not salami. You can wrap one around the other and bam! adult Lunchable.
So those are my general go-to's. Is that exhaustive? Absolutely not. Play around, find your own solutions. I honestly think the best way to get used to and embrace this stuff is to check out your local grocery store and start reading labels. You'll learn a ton! You'll find that a lot of the foods you thought you knew, you don't really know at all. I'm sure if you spend the time, you'll find stuff that works for you and help you get to your goals.
Enjoy your rad new body!