Last week I hopped on a call with one of my coaching clients who we will refer to as Sally for purposes of this blog post. Sally had taken time to review a coaching module, which is an educational video, presented by Dr. Jade, only available to our coaching clients. Within the module, Dr. Jade was discussing the importance of protein for helping to keep your SHMEC in check, particularly if your main goal is to lose weight or change your shape.
Dr. Jade was encouraging the listener (i.e. Sally) to play around with protein goals, stating that you can eat up to, or around, your body weight in grams of protein. This means that if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for around 150 grams of protein per day. I often refer to this as a “protein first” perspective, meaning find a way to get protein in at every meal. Sally felt this suggestion was kind of crazy and not exactly in alignment with her teachings as an allied healthcare provider.
I could hear in Sally’s voice that she was feeling a bit frustrated and confused. She said that would be too much protein for her to eat, not because she had ever attempted to eat that amount before, but because her daily average was probably more like 80 grams or so. I reminded Sally that although she does weigh roughly 150 lbs, the concept provided by Dr. Jade isn’t an exact formula for personalized success, just a suggestion to experiment with.
I understood where Sally was coming from since protein is somewhat debated as a macronutrient in terms of how much you really need for your physique goals. Besides that, 150 grams of protein is a fair amount if it isn’t something you prioritize at meals. If you aren’t thinking of “protein first” and building your meal around higher protein foods, it can definitely be a challenge to hit that number or somewhere close to that.
As part of our coaching program, we often educate clients on how protein is a beneficial source of fuel if you are dealing with unstable hunger. For those following our 3-2-1 plan, it helps the body to function for longer periods of time between meals. Protein helps with getting your HEC in check so you can create a calorie deficit without feeling deprived. There are many studies showing how researchers have taken protein and substituted it calorie for calorie in place of fat or carbohydrate, resulting in greater weight loss with less hunger.
However, the reality is that in the modern world, food is around all of the time. Hunger isn’t always the number one driver in making the decision to have a snack or eat more at your meal. However, if you are full and satisfied most of the day, and you are presented with tempting items to easily graze on, an absence of hunger can help make the decision to practice avoidance easier. Being mindful of your protein intake is hugely important to help you deal with the reality of food being in your face everywhere you turn.
To be clear, just as our coaching program is guided by the philosophy of “do what works for you”, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much protein you need for managing your HEC or meeting your own goals. Just like I discussed with Sally, consider your personal preference and physiology as the guide here. This is where you can be a little bit more intuitive and just make sure to include enough protein at every meal to keep your SHMEC in check. I generally recommend starting with 20-30 grams of protein at meals, and 10-15 grams of protein at each snack if you are a snacker.
What are the best sources of protein? For those who aren’t opposed to eating animal products, think foods like turkey breast, boneless skinless chicken breast, and egg whites. And, of course, you can choose to incorporate a protein supplement such as the Metabolic Super Protein here at Metabolic Living. It has whey protein, which is often regarded as one of the best supplemental protein sources on the market. It has all the essential amino acids, it is tasty, it can easily shut down hunger, and it’s one of the best ways to recover from exercise.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, I wrote this blog post to help with recommendations. Be sure to also check out our blog at metabolicliving.com for delicious recipes created by Bella to provide your body with delicious high-protein smoothies, meals, and treats. You can also listen to Dr. Jade’s Next Level Human Podcast, Episode #48, for more information on the material presented here.
In the end, remember to do what works for you. If you feel that your SHMEC has been out of check and you haven’t been using the perspective of “protein first” give it a try! Find the protein source that you like and that you will use, so your SHMEC will be in check and you’ll be on your way to achieving your body composition or weight loss goals.