Friday, April 22, 2011

Protein: the magic cure? Maybe....

In my last post, I talked about some of the issues I was having which were contributing to some serious struggling I have encountered on this weight loss journey I've been on.  I looked at possible internal/mental issues that were holding me back, but also wondered if I was getting enough protein in my diet which would 1) enable me to work out harder and 2) help me to feel fuller than I had been feeling previously (which was leading to overeating and feeling hungry all the time).

So, this week I decided that I would up my protein intake and see if that made a difference.  But here's where I have to admit something:  I really didn't know how much protein I was supposed to have been eating.  I have no excuses; I just never registered that information when I was looking at my calorie intake, etc.  All this exercise, understanding that you want to lose fat and not muscle mass....and I never looked at how much my protein intake should be.  Shocking!

I thought that eating around 30-50g of protein a day was enough.  I had no reason for that number, but just generally estimated that that's what I normally get (even when I'm eating meat).  But according to my research this past week and my current weight, I should be eating 2-3x that amount!!

The protein shake I'm using (choc flavor)
Holy cow!!

As a result, I should be eating between 
90-150g of protein per day.  


I feel a little ashamed of myself.  I should have paid attention to that.  But what's done is done and now I know.  But my poor body!  Before this journey I didn't take care of it really at all, and now for the first 7+ months I was asking it to do things that I didn't give it the fuel to do!

No wonder I was hungry all the time.  And while I haven't talked about it here, I had noticed a drop in my muscle mass according to my body analyzer scale, so I knew something was up that needed to be changed.

So since Monday, I've been trying to make sure I eat at least 90g of protein per day, by supplementing my diet with a protein shake in the morning and a protein bar after working out.  (Note: if you go this route, make sure and read your labels - some protein bars are really high in calories and don't have as much protein as some that are lower in calories). 
The protein bars I like

 I have to say that it has made a HUGE difference.  

I still find I want to snack throughout the day, but the compulsion isn't overwhelming but seems to be a bit more of a 'habit' thing.  But more than anything else, when I've exercised this week, I've not gotten as tired as quickly and my body has been able to endure and recover much better.  I was tired after swimming 1/2 mile on Wednesday, but not as tired as swimming 1/4 of a mile would have made me last week.  Furthermore, I was able to lift more and do more reps in weight training than previously.  That's improvement all around.

And I'm hoping that come weigh-in on Sunday, I'll see a drop in number on the scale as well.

Of course, as I lose, my protein intake will drop in proportion (as will calories, etc).  But still - you have to eat the right stuff to fuel the body you have right now.

So, you want to know much protein you should be eating per day?  See these calculations I found at (and were corroborated elsewhere):
How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:

1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg

2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.

Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.

Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day

Calculating Protein as a Percentage of Total Calories:
Another way to calculate how much protein you need is by using daily calorie intake and the percentage of calories that will come from protein. To do this, you'll need to know how many calories your body needs each day.

First, find out what your Basal Metabolic Rate is by using a BMR calculator.
Next, figure out how many calories you burn through daily activity and add that number to your BMR. This gives you an estimate of how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.

After you've figured out your maintenance calories, next figure out what percentage of your diet will come from protein. The percentage you choose will be based on your goals, fitness level, age, body type and metabolic rate. Most experts recommend that your protein intake be somewhere between 15 and 30%. When you've determined your desired percentage of protein, multiply that percentage by the total number of calories for the day.

For a 140lb female, calorie intake=1800 calories, protein=20%:
1800 x .20 = 360 calories from protein. Since 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, divide protein calories by four:
360/4 = 90 grams of protein per day.

There's issues with protein intake, however, if you are diabetic or have liver issues, I think.  So if you have any health problems that may affect how much protein you should be eating, make sure and do your research and consult your doctor.

Otherwise, this week's lesson is:  Protein is where it's at.

Get you some!

*oh, and by the way, Holland & Barrett didn't give me any discounts or anything to plug their products - I just wanted to share what I'm using, but will probably give other products a go as I work out what's best for me*

Have you had any "well, duh!" moments in your journey?  
Or am I the only one?


  1. While it may be frustrating to get to that point, it does feel good once you realize what works for you.

    I found I had to eat enough protein during the day as well to make me feel less hungry and to promote weight loss. It took me a while to realize what works for me though. I use plain greek yogurt and I've also used protein supplements to get more protein in.

    I'm glad you found what works for you! :)

  2. This is the main reason low carb has worked for me. I am not in ketosis or anything that strict but leaving off all the obvious sugars and starches and eating until I am comfortably full is great. If I get hungry at night I have almonds. A handful of dry roasted unsalted peanuts will get you through the afternoon. Just don't make the mistake of thinking you can overeat on acceptable things and lose weight (ask me how I know). Low carb keeps insulin levels low which means the body won't be storing fat and will be using fat that's already there as energy because you will not be consuming the amount of carbs that you were. The water is important - but you knew that. Low low low carb made me tired and the bad breath and bad taste was yucky.

  3. Thanks for the information about the losing weight. You provided food for thought. Thanks for sharing the information. All the best to you.