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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Let's Talk Protein

Back in early November of 2013, I embarked on my fitness journey.  Yesterday, I stepped off the scales with a reading within 5 lb of the ideal weight for my gender, age and height.  My %BF and BMI have dropped.  I look good and feel amazing!  However, I am pushing forward towards my goal of a BMI of 18.5, the lowest on the scale of healthy (18.5 to 24.9).  Less than 18.5 is considered underweight and above 24.9 is overweight.  Once I reach my weight that gives me a BMI of 18.5, I will move into maintenance mode.  Exercising will be for fitness and toning.  All in all, I am very pleased with the results so far!

I have joked several times that the improved me is proudly brought to you by protein.  The fact is, most folks do not get enough protein in their diet.  We eat a fairly healthy diet that would be considered about 80% clean and 20% general.  We very seldom eat at fast food restaurants.  So, in comparison to many, I really needed to do little as far as the foods I was eating.  The only notable change I made was putting more emphasis on protein.  

Protein becomes even more important when eating at a calorie deficit for weight loss or when eating at a calorie surplus to bulk-up.  During a calorie deficit you lose water, fat and without adequate protein intake, you will also lose lean muscle.  Protein also helps you lose weight!  During bulking you are building muscle so protein becomes even more important.  You cannot repair or build muscle without adequate protein.

Well Wisdom created this informative infographic to show why women need more protein. Their recommendation is 50 g of protein a day but the daily recommended protein is 0.7 g to 1 g per pound lean body weight.  The default macro setting on My Fitness Pal is 50% carb, 30% fat and 20% protein.  I changed mine to 40% carb, 30% fat and 30% protein.  The 40:30:30 ratio gives a nice balance with higher protein to help maintain, repair and built lean muscle.  My protein goal is 90 g per day, almost twice what Well Wisdom recommends.  Consider though that athletes and body builders will have a protein goal of 200 g or more per day.  Those on a low carb, high protein diet will also have a high daily protein goal.  

There are 4 calories per gram of protein.  My daily goal of 90 g protein would be 360 calories.  The problem is that protein does not come with just the calories from protein.  There will be carb and/or fat calories in addition to the protein calories.  It did not take me long to realize that eating enough to get 90 g of protein a day would present a bit of a problem.  I'm not a big eater at the best of times.  The chances of me eating 34 slices of bacon in one day is simply not ever going to happen!  The challenge became getting more protein without dramatically increasing calories especially those from carbs.

In general, I have found lean meats, poultry, eggs and fish to be the best in terms of protein and fats.  I don't drink milk but if I did, it along with yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese are good for protein and carbs.  Fruits and vegetables have little protein but have a low caloric value with necessary micronutrients so are part of a healthy diet.

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to focus on how I increased protein in our diet.  It really hasn't been difficult.  I've been able to maintain a calorie deficit for my desired weight loss so increasing protein without trying to lose weight shouldn't be a problem.  I've had a lot of fun discovering new foods, experimenting and creating so now it is time to share with you.  Stay tuned...

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