Sunday, May 13, 2018

Protein and energy — How much do you need of each?

Target high-protein, nutrient-dense foods to stay full longer.
Eat less, move more — that's what they've been telling us for years, right? You're just not exercising enough, and you're eating too much! And if your really want to lose weight, it's as simply as counting calories in against calories out.

Unfortunately, our human bodies are a little more complicated than that. A calorie of sugar does not equal a calorie of beef, or a calorie of leafy green vegetables, and so on and so forth. Depending on the quality and the source of these calories, our bodies use them in thousands of different ways, each with their own cascade of hormonal and biological effects.

Also unfortunately, no one who wants to lose body fat also wants to think about dieting through the lens of the body's complex biological mechanisms. That's why I like to think of it in the simplest way possible: Protein and Energy.

We all know protein when we see it — eggs, meat, fish, fowl, etc. — these are all excellent sources of protein, containing complete essential amino acid profiles (essential meaning our body NEEDS us eat them because it CANNOT produce them itself).

Proteins are the building blocks of our body, and are not easily stored as fat or used as energy. Our muscles, organs and connective tissue are constantly rebuilding themselves with these nutrients, which is why it's so important — along with properly performed strength training — to eat enough protein. I recommend a minimum of 100 grams of protein a day for anyone, which visually is about 12 ounces of chicken breast. Your body will thank you.

On the other side of the scale is energy. Our bodies use fats and carbohydrates for energy to fuel every day activities, no matter how strenuous or not strenuous they are. You even need energy to stay alive while you sleep.

One of the main causes of obesity in the modern age is protein dilution. Basically what this means, is since your body needs to consume a certain amount of protein to stay alive, it signals you to keep eating until you reach that goal. If all you're eating are eggs, meat, fish, fowl and green vegetables, you're going to hit that protein goal and stay full and satisfied without over-consuming energy along with it.

On the other hand, if you're eating modern processed foods, you're going to have to pack in a lot more energy (fats and carbohydrates) in order to hit that protein goal your body is looking for.

To put it simply: If you put an emphasis on protein and eat real foods as close as you would find them in nature, you can eat as much as you want until you're completely stuffed — WITHOUT actually overeating! Grab a steak and enjoy.

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