High Protein: Why You May Need It and How to Get It
Protein is very important to your overall health! It’s more than important – it’s critical. Your body needs high protein intake to perform a wide array of functions from growing and repairing its own tissues to supplying your body with energy. In fact, your body is quite literally made up of protein.
Protein molecules provide structure to many parts of your body including your muscles, skin, organs, and even play a role in your hormone function. Protein is a macronutrient, meaning your body needs large amounts of it for optimal health, as opposed to the comparatively small amount of micronutrients your body needs like vitamins and minerals.1 Unlike fat, another macronutrient, your body doesn’t have protein stores, so you need to consume it daily. Sometimes, though, it can be tough to get enough protein from your meals during your busy day.
The good news is that you CAN get high protein amounts in your diet in many different delicious ways. I will tell you how to get high protein in your diet and why you need it. First, let’s talk about this important building block for your body.
What is Protein
As I mentioned before, protein is a macronutrient. Protein molecules consist of hundreds or thousands of amino acids linked together in “chains.” There are 20 different types of amino acids, and the sequence of these amino acids determines the specific three-dimensional structure and subsequent function of each protein. These molecules are the workhorses of your body.
All protein chains in your body can be categorized into seven types: antibodies, contractile proteins, enzymes, hormonal proteins, structural proteins, storage proteins, and transport proteins.2 Each of these have a specific function:
- Antibodies: Defend against antigens and foreing invaders
- Contractile proteins: Responsible for muscle contraction and movement
- Enzymes: Facilitate biochemical reactions
- Structural proteins: Supports the production of keratin, collagen, and elastin
- Storage proteins: Reserves amino acids until they are needed by the body
- Transport proteins: Carrier proteins that move molecules through the body
- Hormonal proteins: Messenger proteins that coordinate body functions such as metabolism.
Your body does not produce these proteins naturally3, so it’s important to get optimal levels of protein from your diet. Some great sources of protein include organic, pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild-caught salmon. I will talk about how much protein you need later, and how you can reap the essential health benefits with very little effort. Let’s discuss more about why you need high amounts of protein.
Benefits of Protein
Earlier, I briefly discussed some of the benefits of ensuring high protein in your diet. Let’s go a little deeper into the benefits.
Protein molecules are the frontline workers for your body. Each of the seven types of protein perform a tremendous number of tasks that benefit your body. Protein is critical to sustaining human life. Your body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding all manner of structures and systems. You need the amino acids in complete proteins to help build and repair every single structure in your body. This requires a great deal of dietary protein every day to be done correctly and efficiently. I will tell you how much you should get shortly.
Here is how protein benefits your body:
- Reduces appetite and hunger levels: Studies show that protein reduces the hunger hormone ghrelin and boosts levels of peptide YY, a hormone that makes you feel full.4
- Increases muscle mass and strength: Protein is a building block of your muscles. It is essential to increase lean muscle mass.
- It’s good for bone health: Research indicates that protein, especially animal protein, helps maintain bone mass as you age.5
- Reduces sugar cravings: Increasing your protein intake curbs sugar cravings.
- Boosts metabolism and increases fat burning: Protein can help you boost your fat metabolism by making you burn more calories during the day.
- Supports weight loss: Because protein boosts metabolism and suppresses your appetite, it naturally supports healthy weight loss.
- Helps your body recover after injury: Remember, protein is the building blocks of your cells. Getting high protein amounts can help you recover faster after an injury.6
Eating a high protein diet provides many benefits, especially when you’re trying to reach optimal weight and health. High protein diets can boost your metabolism and increase satiety. So, how much protein do you actually need?
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The amount of protein you need isn’t a one-size-fits all number. Everyone needs a different amount and there are a variety of factors to consider when determining how much protein you need, including activity level and lifestyle. If you are more active, then you need to consume more protein.There are two ways to figure out how much protein you need
One method starts with how many calories you need each day. This is a great method to use if you are exercising and active. While it may seem complicated, it’s actually pretty simple. There’s a little math involved, so grab your calculator!
Determine Your Calorie Needs
To begin to figure out your daily calorie needs, you need to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the amount of energy your body needs when resting.
- For an adult male: 66+(6.3 x body weight) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x range in years) = BMR
- For an adult female: 66+(4.3 x body weight) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x range in years) = BMR
After you figure out your BMR, you’re ready to calculate how many calories you need to maintain a healthy weight. To determine total calorie needs, multiply your BMR by your activity level.
- Sedentary (little to no exercise): BMR x 1.2
- Light activity (1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
- Moderate activity (3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
- Very active (6-7 days/week): BMR x 1.725
Finding out your calorie needs will help you determine how many of those calories need to come from protein.
Another way to determine how much protein you should be consuming every day to maintain muscle strength and optimal weight is to multiply your body weight by 0.35 (pounds x 0.35). So, if you weigh 145 pounds, you should be eating about 50 grams of protein every day. This method to determine how much protein you need is only recommended if you live a sedentary lifestyle.7
Current USDA dietary guidelines suggest that adult men and women should get 10% to 35% of their total calories from protein.8 So for example, if your required number of calories is 2,000, then 200 to 700 calories should come from protein depending on your activity level. The catch is that the USDA recommendations is the amount needed to not have a deficiency. It is not the amount needed for optimal health. There are many benefits for getting more than the recommended amount of protein such as maintaining weight, quicker muscle repair after exercise, and lowering your blood pressure. This also depends on the diet you choose.
Now that you know how much protein your body needs based on the methods above, let’s talk about ways to get protein!
High Protein Foods
One of the best sources of protein is animal protein. I always recommend that you buy organic meats, fruits and vegetables. However, I understand that can be expensive, so at the very least, your meat should come from organic sources such as grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and poultry, and wild-caught seafood.
Seafood such as wild-caught salmon is known for its high amounts protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins including B vitamins and vitamin D, and minerals such as potassium and selenium. All are essential for your body, and support growth and brain function.9
Another excellent source of protein is organic, grass-fed meat. There are so many choices depending on the animal, the cut, and where and how it was raised. Lean, red meat such as bison is low in total fat and salt. Untrimmed beef, lamb, and pork is higher in total and saturated fat. Meat and poultry are high protein foods, full of fat-soluble vitamins, amino acids, B vitamins, iron, zinc, and more. They’re some of the most nutrient-dense foods.10 I get my high protein snacks from Thrive Market. Their snacks are a great source for protein on the go, and you can have it delivered right to your door!
I want to add a note if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. I was a vegetarian for over 20 years and I ultimately discovered that this played a big role in why I developed an autoimmune condition. In the years since I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, I have done extensive research and made a big shift in my own diet. Now I recommend that anyone dealing with autoimmunity add animal protein into your diet. When it comes to plant protein vs. animal protein, animal protein is the clear winner!
How to Boost Your Protein
One-third of adults over age 50 fail to meet their daily recommended allowance for protein intake!11 That’s frustrating because it’s so easy to ensure you are getting high protein amounts. One convenient way to get more protein in your diet is by replacing a meal or snack with a smoothie containing a high-quality protein powder. There are several options out there so it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.
While all protein powders tout health benefits, the hidden toxins and inflammatory ingredients in many protein powders such as whey and casein (dairy), gluten, soy, legumes, and sugar can be counterintuitive to feeling the full benefit of the protein.
I went five years without using a protein powder because I couldn’t find one that met my dietary needs. I finally decided enough was enough and formulated The Myers Way® Paleo Protein powders! This Paleo Protein is one of the only truly clean protein powders on the market and is sourced from grass-fed cattle. It’s already available in 8 flavors and now it comes in a tasty new flavor: Strawberries & Cream!
Like all of my Paleo Protein powders, Strawberries & Cream Paleo Protein does not contain gluten, dairy, sugar, or artificial sweeteners. There are no additives, preservatives, dyes or other toxic ingredients.
All nine essential amino acids are included in Strawberries & Cream Paleo Protein. Each easy-to-take serving of all the delicious flavors packs more than 20 grams of high-quality protein. I have some every morning and it helps me start off my day on the right foot. It’s such an easy way to add a huge boost of protein into your diet.
Getting the right amount of protein every day is an important part of achieving optimal health. Now you can confidently enjoy healthy, clean Paleo protein powder in a new delicious flavor. If you mix it with your dairy-alternative milk, it tastes just like a strawberry shake without the calories! The best part is that you’ll be getting easy, pure animal protein in each scoop!
- Nutrition Basics: Macronutrients & Micronutrients. Washington State University . 2020.
- Proteins in the Cell. Regina Bailey. ThoughtCo. 2020.
- Dietary Proteins. Meadline Plus. 2021.
- Critical role for peptide YY in protein-mediated satiation and body-weight regulation. Rachel L Batterham. National Library of Medicine. 2006.
- Dietary Protein and Bone Health. René Rizzoli and Jean-Philippe Bonjour. The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. 2009.
- The importance of patients' nutritional status in wound healing. L Russell. National Library of Medicine. 2001.
- How much protein do you need every day?. Rachel L Batterham. Harvard Medical School. 2015.
- Protein Intake for Optimal Muscle Maintenance. American College of Sports Medicine. 2019.
- Seafood Consumption and Components for Health. Ryota Hosomi, Munehiro Yoshida, and Kenji Fukunaga. National Library of Medicine. 2012.
- The Truth About Red Meat. Elizabeth Lee. WebMD. 2011.
- Protein and healthy aging. Douglas Paddon-Jones. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015.
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