Fit Food For Thought

I’ve been doing well so far with my resolution to track food intake daily.  My Macros+ is the tracking app I’ve been using because it allows me to input my macro goals, and it shows my accumulations throughout the day. It also has a barcode scanning function to search for foods and populate the nutrition information that has saved me so much time.  I’m also working on getting my protein intake up to 158g per day (which is my current body weight, as of Monday, so I’m eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight)

I’ll be real for a second here, tracking food daily is hard for me. It may not seem like a difficult task to many, just logging food eaten, but I’ve struggled with disordered eating and emotional eating through my life, and I subconsciously place a lot of emotional weight around my dietary habits. Holding myself accountable and pre-measuring the foods I eat is challenging. There is a strange association in my mind between sitting on the couch mindlessly eating a bag of pita chips and relaxation or stress relief–which, rationally, I know to be uncorrelated. Today was tough because I’m a little overwhelmed with life at the moment and my normal response to stress is to mindlessly eat.

I’ve been listening to the Physique Science Radio Podcasts by Sohee Lee and Layne Norton, episode 17 to be specific. Their guest on this episode, Steve Ledbetter, a fitness psychologist, says one should view things like scale weight and food logs with as much emotion as one would count the number of white cars in a parking lot. This is definitely something I’m aspiring toward in my pursuits this year. I’m addressing my sources of stress rather than escaping from them with food and constantly reminding myself that the number on the scale is just a number and has nothing to do with my happiness or the quality of person I am.

I’m going to share a couple of my meals from this week (meals I remembered to take a picture of). You’ll notice they are not perfectly “clean” or made of only “good” foods, but they are good enough. I hope these help give you all some ideas of protein-centered meals you might like to include in your diet.

Meal 1 (Left): a handful of Spinach, grape tomatoes, a can of tuna, and half an avocado seasoned with salt and pepper (27g Protein)

Meal 2 (Center): 4 ounces lean ground turkey, refried beans, and 1 ounce of cheese (33g Protein)

Meal 3: (Right): a cup of plain greek yogurt (taste-wise, I prefer the 2% over the nonfat) and half a cup of trail mix consisting of almonds, cashews, and dried cranberries (25g Protein)

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Protein is King

  Protein

  • Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different amino acid. To make proteins, they are joined in arrangements of a few dozen to hundreds called polypeptides. Nonessential amino acids are made (synthesized) by the human body and essential amino acids are not made by the body but must be obtained through the diet
    • Essential Amino Acids: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine, Histidine*
    • Non-Essential Amino Acids: Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamic acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Tyrosine
  • Protein quality: How well a protein supplies amino acids proportionate to the body’s needs. High quality proteins supply the body with all 9 essential amino acids. Complementary proteins are lower-quality proteins that can, in combination over the course of the day, supply all 9 essential amino acids.
    • High quality: proteins of animal origin including eggs, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products
    • Complementary Proteins: generally, beans/legumes plus grains for example, beans and rice, corn and beans, corn tortillas and refried beans, and peanut butter and bread
  • 1 gram of protein contains 4 kilocalories (Calories)

Functions

  • Proteins are important structural molecules, enzymes, and antibodies in the body
  • They are essential for muscle repair, muscular hypertrophy (growth), catalyzing biochemical reactions, DNA repair, and so much more
  • Consuming protein helps to maintain muscle mass, especially while at a caloric deficit (dieting).

Recommendations

  • Recommended protein for sedentary, non-active adults: 0.36g/pound of body weight per day. A 150lb person should consume at least 54g of protein daily
  • My recommendation of daily protein intake for an active individual is 1.0g/pound of body weight or up to 1.5g/pound if dieting. A 150lb person should consume around 150g of protein, with at least 65% of the protein coming from high-quality sources
  • The best way to meet protein recommendations: protein should be divided equally across 4-5 meals daily separated by 4-6 hours each. Each meal should contain30-45g of protein and 3-4g of leucine. Consumption of a leucine or amino acid supplement in between meals is recommended as well.
    • this strategy maximizes muscle protein synthesis and anabolism (i.e. muscle growth and recovery)
    • If this strategy doesn’t work for your life, modifying it to meet individual needs is ok! Consistency is what is most important.

References

Lee, Sohee. How to Count Macros Ebook 2. Sohee Lee 2015

Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 3rd Edition. NSCA 2008.