The only time in my life I ever really focused on how much protein I was eating was during my pregnancies. I wanted to be sure that I was taking in the recommended daily grams so that my babies had the best start in life.
Fast forward to now being a grandmother, caring for my spouse after his health event, and working full-time. I started to notice so much brain fog, fatigue, and cravings for food I knew were not good for me and that middle-aged expanding middle.
After a little bit of research and education, I realized the thing I was lacking.
When it comes to building lean muscle mass, protein is your best friend. It is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Consuming an adequate amount of protein provides your body with the necessary fuel to repair and rebuild.
Protein also helps with brain function by helping brain communication because the amino acids in protein build neurotransmitters, helping the neurons with communication. Protein is the second largest matter in the brain, aside from water…so it’s kind of a big deal.
But how much protein do you really need? The answer to this question depends on various factors such as your age, weight, activity level, and fitness goals. As a general guideline, experts recommend consuming around 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, if you’re looking to build lean muscle mass, it’s advisable to increase your protein intake to approximately 1.2 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Incorporating protein into your daily routine is easier than you might think.
However, most of us do not eat enough or in the best ratios.
Maybe we eat eggs in the morning and then find ourselves so busy the rest of the day, we are just eating convenient and processed carbs! Or we skip protein all day and then end the day with a giant fast-food burger and hope it’s enough.
While I wanted to up my protein, between working, caregiving, and all the other responsibilities I have, it seemed impossible at times.
With my body weight, I calculated I needed between 78-130 grams of protein per day.
I drive most days to see patients, so much of my eating is in the car! This presented another challenge for my protein intake quest.
I realized I had to think outside of the grill!
Really delve into foods that were easy, portable, and packed full of protein.
So I sat down and did some good solid research on foods that would provide me with the most grams of protein. After I did this, I was able to create solid plans for my patients as well and have seen everything from increased concentration, decreased fatigue, decreased achiness, and weight loss that I didn’t expect to see!
While my choices were limited to things that could stay in my car in a small cooler, while also being in our relatively tight grocery budget, I was able to set up a plan for myself that has helped me fight that middle-aged spread, brain fog, and fatigue.
While it may seem like this is too simple of a solution to fix all these issues, let me share one last piece of data with you:
The Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging found that 1 out of 3 Americans over 50 years old were not getting enough protein.
The signs and symptoms of protein deficiency include:
- Mood swings
- Frequent illness
- Feelings of weakness
- Issues with hair, skin, or nails
- Slow healing
If any of these sound like you, please use the protein calculator link above to figure out how much protein you should be getting. Use this link below to look up foods you are eating to find out how much protein they have.
Keep a record and definitely talk to your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms and protein needs.
You are always welcome to reach out to me with questions. I am a real person and read all of my emails!