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Eat Enough Protein: A Practical Guide

If your goal is to build strength, burn fat, or get healthier, you'll need to dial in your protein game. You already know that protein is important, so this is a practical guide to make getting enough of it easy AF.

Milton Holdiem
Milton Holdiem
7 min read
Eat Enough Protein: A Practical Guide

Your guide to getting enough protein

If your goal is to build strength, burn fat, or get healthier, you'll need to dial in your protein game. You already know that protein is important, so this is a practical guide to make getting enough of it easy AF.

In this guide, you'll learn:

  • Why protein matters
  • How to know if a food is a good protein source
  • How much protein to consume daily
  • A list of no-prep and low-prep high-protein foods to keep handy.

Why you should focus on protein

Protein is the first place I start when addressing nutrition. For most of my clients, it's easier to start eating more of something than taking things away.

Training wrecks your body, then uses protein to repair itself. Refuel your body to get your gains faster. This could also reduce overall soreness levels.

Protein burns more calories when it's broken down. (Google thermic effect of food) It makes you feel fuller, longer, making it harder to overeat.

How to know if a food is a good protein source

Learn this so you don't get duped by misleading marketing. To know if a food is a good protein source, check the nutrition facts. Most foods contain more than one macronutrient. (protein, carbs, and fat) For a source to be considered high in protein it should be relatively higher than the carbs and fats.

Peanut butter is often referred to as a protein. But check this out:
PB has 8 grams of protein, 6g of carbs, and 16g of fat.

While it does have protein, it has DOUBLE the fat content.
1 tbsp of pb = ~190 cal. Most of the cal comes from carbs + fat.
Therefore, peanut butter is delicious but it’s NOT a primary protein source. It’s more like a fat source that has protein. (this goes for other nuts too.)

How much protein to consume daily

I like to start with at least 70% of your current bodyweight in grams of protein.

If you weigh 200lbs, eat 140g of protein a day.
If you ever get serious about a muscle-building phase, try a 1:1 ratio of protein to bodyweight. (If 175lbs, 175g protein)

Note for new trackers: Protein in grams is the amount of protein a food has, NOT the weight. For example, 1 Cup of Chicken breast weighs about 140g. It has 43 grams of protein and 5g of fat. 

General Protein Guidelines

  • When possible, get your protein in consistent dosages more frequently vs all your protein in one meal. The body likes it better.
  • You don't need to "protein-ize" every food or meal. The best protein cookie to me will never beat a regular cookie. Stay on track with your protein so that you have more flexibility for when you do want to eat non goal-oriented food.
  • Always check if a food is actually higher in protein. Check the other macros to see how they compare. Don't assume a food is high-protein because the label says it.
  • Restaurants create meals based on economics + general perception of a meal. Most places do NOT give you enough protein. It's up to you to double up on your servings.

A List of High Protein Foods:

Add these to your grocery list. (breakdown below)

No Prep, High Protein Food

  • Oikos protein yogurt  (15-20g/container)
  • Cottage cheese (15g/container)
  • Fairlife Core Power (26g/bottle)
  • Stryve Beef Biltong (16g/serving)
  • Canned tuna (48g/can)
  • Pure Protein Bar (~20g/bar)
  • Whey protein (24g)

Low Prep, High Protein Food

  • Chicken breast
  • Chicken thighs
  • Steak: Top sirloin
  • Steak: New York strip
  • Lean ground beef (93:7)
  • Ground turkey
  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Salmon
  • Scallops

Honorable Mention

  • Goodles- protein pasta (14g)

High Protein Food Breakdown

No prep work required.

Oikos Protein Yogurt  (15-20g/container)

They also have 20g ones, and 15g ones. Add some fruit on top and oooph. (Amazing for breakfast and dessert) I love greek yogurt in the AM but these portioned-out protein-specific options make planning even easier.

Oikos Protein Yogurts (15g and 20g)

Good Culture Cottage Cheese (~15g/container)

Good Culture Cottage Cheese. It's in a mini pack that looks like a yogurt container. Just like the yogurt above, add some fruit to step up its game.

Good Culture Cottage Cheese (15-19g/container)

Fairlife Core Power Drink (26g/bottle)

It's kind of like drinking a premade protein shake or chocolate milk. If you don't mind the feeling of drinking a ton of milk, this can yield a ton of protein. There's a bottle that has 46g of protein too!

Fairlife Core Power Drink (26g/bottle)

Stryve Biltong (16g/serving)

Stryve Biltong is a South African style beef jerky. It's more like air-dried beef. Regular beef jerky work here too! Other brands are Archer Beef Jerky and Chomps

Stryve Biltong (16g/serving)

Canned Tuna (48g/can)

16g in a serving, 3 servings per can. It's pretty wild. Mix this into a pasta or make a tuna salad with it but careful with the fat count.

Canned Tuna (48g/can)

Pure Protein Bars (~20g/bar)

Pure Protein (20g protein, 16g carbs. added carbs so you can see the ratio)

I like to think of protein bars like a candy bar that had a baby with whey protein. They're closer to a candy bar than other protein sources. Better than nothing, I stick like 6 of these in my car in case of emergency. They might melt in the summer, but willing to risk it.

Assorted Protein Bars(~20g/bar)

Other protein bars I like:
Barebells = 20g protein, 17g carbs (0.8:1 carb to protein)
Quest Bar = 20g protein, 22g carbs (1.1:1 carb to protein)
RXbar = 12g protein, 23g carbs (2:1 carb to protein)

What about Clif Bars?

If you use the method of analysis from earlier, you'll see that a normal Clif Bar wouldn't be best classified as a protein bar. It's 10g protein, 43g carbs, 6g fat. It's a 4:1 ratio in carbs to fat. Note: That doesn't mean it's not "healthy," it's meant for a quick burst of energy, not for protein. (this applies to the "Perfect Bar" too.)

Whey Protein (24g)

I like gold standard by Optimum Nutrition because it's less expensive and accessible. Ascent whey protein is my favorite in terms of flavor. It's the "cleanest" in terms of least ingredients compared to any other protein I found.

Whey Protein (24g)

High Protein Foods Breakdown

You'll need to prep these in advance but they don’t take forever. Instead of a full meal, think of them as components you can add to anything.

A simple way to always have protein on hand

  1. Season and cook your meat/protein
  2. Chop it up after cooking.
  3. Place into containers.
  4. Keep some in your fridge at all times.
  5. Add protein to any meal. This improves the ratio of protein, carbs, and fats to balance your nutrition.

Pasta dish? Beef stew + rice? Curry dish?
Cook it as is and then splash some ground turkey into it (or on the side.)

Low Prep, High Protein Food

This list improves the better you are at cooking. (Cooking resources below)

  • Chicken breast
  • Chicken thighs
  • Steak: Top sirloin
  • Steak: New York strip
  • Lean ground beef (93:7)
  • Ground turkey
  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Salmon
  • Scallops

Goodles (14p, 47c)

This one is NOT a lean protein source, BUT it's a great pasta alternative at times. 14 grams of protein, 47 grams of carbs. You can get these at Target!

Goodles (14g)

If your cooking game needs work, study these:

Frank Prisinzano Methods
A series of Frank’s most beloved methods

Cooking methods with Frank Prizinsano. He changed the way I view cooking.

Basics with Babish: Season 1
Beginning with essential kitchen tools, Andrew Rea walks viewers through basic techniques and classic recipes so everyone can make beautiful meals at home.

Learn some cooking basics from Andrew Rea AKA "Binging with Babish".

Food Lab Basics
Video’s delen met vrienden, familie en de rest van de wereld

Kenji Lopez-Alt's Food Lab Basics playlist. He does science-based food testing so you don't have to.

Fin

I hope this helps with your protein game. Keeping your protein on point is a skill that improves over time. The cool thing is once you learn it and practice for a little while, it becomes intuitive. 🤘🏾

nutrition

Milton Holdiem Twitter

Focused on coaching busy professionals. Cold brew drinker.

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