Monday, March 11, 2013

Trying to find ways to increase my protein intake

I've been reading the New Rules for Weight Lifting books and other things about weight lifting and strength training and one thing seems fairly obvious. I am not getting enough protein in my diet.

Since I log everything, I can see what I get for the day on average. I feel I'm trying to get enough protein, but I am not, sadly. Time to tweak the diet some more, especially if I am exercising and weight training.

So, right now this is a typical day, on a good day and if I eat two protein bars in the morning:


two cups of decaf. coffee with a total of about 1 cup of whole milk
Protein bar (sometimes two protein bars)

30-40 grams of protein for breakfast


Large apple, sliced sprinkled liberally with cinnamon
3.5 tablespoons of peanut butter (carefully measured)

12 grams of protein for lunch


Large helping of a green vegetable/salad
4-6 ounces of a protein/meat.

30-40 grams of protein for dinner

That averages out to about 1450 calories a day and 72 to 92 grams of protein a day on a good day. When I look over my charts, I tend to get about 65-70 grams of protein a day. That is way more than I used to get and I get there by eating whey proteins in the morning, without that, I would be way lower.

I should be getting no less than 100 grams of protein a day. To do that, I need to give up my lovely peanut butter and apple lunch because I just don't get enough protein with it. Sigh.

There are all kinds of recommendations for protein but most things agree that the FDA recommendations are way too low. Just like they are way too high on carb intake recommendations.

Depending on what you read - I could need anywhere from 70 to 180 grams of protein every day. I think 180 is way high and would near impossible for me to achieve. But, getting around 100-110 should be doable, maintainable and what I need for what I'm asking my body to do on a regular basis which is doing aerobic exercise 4 times a week and strength training twice a week.

But, it will be tricky.

For breakfasts, I get quite a bit of protein because of those protein bars. I wish I could eat eggs or cottage cheese or something, but I simply cannot handle meat and/or eggs in the morning and since I can't stomach many/most dairy products, those are out too. If I try to eat ham and eggs or the like, I feel like I will vomit. It's just too heavy in the morning. Brunch, OK, but not for breakfast.

I have issues with dairy products. As a baby, I couldn't handle milk (and I don't think I was switched to any non dairy formulas). Because of that, I grew up hating anything and everything that looked or tasted like milk - except ice cream. Even then, I learned early on that too much ice cream gave me stomach cramps and diarrhea. I couldn't eat/drink milk, yogurt, most cheeses, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and similar things.

I obviously had a problem with dairy, but I think my immature brain saw 'liquid white' and thought ick! So, it was more an aversion than a problem for most of my childhood. I could eat, for instance, cheeses on pizza, or baked in lasagna (until one day I saw my mom putting cottage cheese in lasagna - I gave up lasagna for awhile). I would eat yellow cheese, just not white, and so on.

So, little by little, I developed a taste for some dairy products. I can eat yogurt now, but not by itself  - only baked in things or in things like a fruit smoothie. I can eat cottage cheese in lasagna or other bakes goods, but again, not by itself. Same with sour cream. I will now eat cream cheese (thinly spread), white cheeses (just not bleu cheeses) and such. But I still cannot handle much milk. That cup of milk in my coffee for some reason is OK, but a fruit smoothie with milk is not (gives me stomach cramps).

Mostly, I hate the taste of milky things. If it's disguised, OK, but it can still kick in a very strong gag reflex. I have tried and tried and tried to like plain yogurt (or greek yogurt) and cottage cheese as it is so good for you. But I just can't. It's too milky. Even some whey protein powders I cannot handle as they taste too much like milk (especially vanilla flavors).

With that limitation, getting enough protein gets challenging. I like nuts, but they are OK in protein, but are so high calorie (with a lot of fat) that I can't eat enough of them to make up for the protein I need without going over my caloric limit.

I like meat, but for some reason, I'm not a huge meat fan. Once a day is enough for me. Before I had kids? We ate meat like 2-3 times a week. Sure, we eat beans and lentils too, but I don't make them all the time because the little guy won't touch them. I could make tofu, but my mother in law won't touch it.

Already as it is, I feel like I am a short order cook. I don't want to be making three-four different dinners every night - no way. I just need to find more ways to sneak in protein and the most likely way seems to be giving up my apple and peanut butter lunch and either making a lentil/bean stew that I can eat for lunches or a nice big salad with eggs and or meat proteins/bean proteins.

If I switch that up, I should be able to get to the 100 grams of proteins in a day. Getting 30-40 grams of protein for lunch versus 12 would be a big change and it would mean I'm getting about 30-40 grams of protein at every meal without going over my caloric limit too.

Now, just to get over my laziness. A peanut butter and apple lunch is quick and easy. A salad lunch takes prep time! But, that's what I'm off to go make right now. My first salad with cheese, peppers, tomato and grilled chicken salad.


  1. Hi:
    Someone once told me that each gram of protien takes four calories to digest. So if you add 30gs more per day you burn off 120 calories more per day. The key is a high yield protein. Low calorie high protein. I find low fat / calorie yogurt to be a great choice. I know you don't like milky things. 60 calories with 5 grams of fat. Did you know slices of cheese - low fat can have as much as 9gs of protein for a 70 calorie slice. Also you can get low calorie high protein shakes. You can add a powder called PB2 (you can get on amazon) which adds 4 grams of protein for like 30 cals. It tastes very good - like peanut butter (I believe they also have crackers)

  2. It's interesting you wrote this as I was just reading yesterday how the body absorbs fat the easiest/best, then carbs then proteins. Guess what I eat the most of (with the peanut butter and olive oil)? Fats! So, when I eat 1400 calories, I'm absorbing/using most of those calories.

    I have PB2 actually and tried to sub it for regular peanut butter with my apple, but didn't find it as satiating. Maybe I'll go back to it and also add some protein.

    Today, for lunch I ate what everyone else ate for dinner last night. It seemed like SOOOOO much food (and it was 600 calories), but the meat seemed like huge mounds. Well, I took out my scale and it was 6.5 ounces of cooked chicken breast. That is hardly tons and tons. And, it was hard for me to eat it. WOnder why I'm not a big protein fan?

    But I'm working on it - every day trying to find ways to sneak in more protein. Thanks for the comment

  3. Yes I was told that fats and carbs are a 1:1 ratio. In that you only burn off one calorie (or less) to digest them. Really makes you think. Go to the gym and burn off 120 calories or, up your protein intake, and do the same thing. I do wish there were more / better options. I have trouble getting enough also.