I will start this post with a quick statistic fact.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1), the average American person consumes approximately 15% of their calories from protein. For an average 2000 kcal diet, this means a total of 75 grams of protein per day. While this is within the current range of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), it is not at all optimal for sustaining an active lifestyle and muscle synthesis.
If you are consistently training in the gym, and especially if you are looking to build some muscle, you should aim for 1.5 – 2 g protein/kg bodyweight or 0.7-1 g per lbs of bodyweight. So if, for example, you weigh 60 kg, you will need to be eating between 90-120 g of protein daily. I hope this puts in perspective how many people are not even close to consuming an adequate amount.
Chronically being in a protein deficit will lead to the breakdown of muscle. This leads to a loss of strength, balance, and functional abilities over time as well as affects your mood and the quality of your nails and hair.
Now that you know why protein is important, let’s get into how to make sure that you are getting enough. First, make a list of all protein sources that you like, are accessible, and fit into your diet and budget. Secondly, try to include one of these sources at each meal/snack. This is an easy way to ensure you are consuming a decent amount, by spreading it out throughout the day in all of your meals and snacks.
If you track your calories and protein intake for a short while, you will very quickly learn to approximate the content of a serving from all of your favorite sources, so you can ensure you are eating enough even on the days you are not tracking.
At the end of the “nutrition’ section of this book, in the “Grocery shopping inspiration” list you will find a list of all of my favorite protein sources that I always make sure to have at hand! You can use this for inspiration.