As a personal trainer and coach, some of the most common questions I get asked by clients are “What’s the deal with protein?”, “How much should I consume?”, And “How do I get adequate protein in my diet, especially while on the go?”
Let’s start with why protein is important:
Protein is a macronutrient that provides essential amino acids to facilitate healthy tissue repair and muscular regeneration. Protein also facilitates the productions of enzymes, hormones, and other essential chemicals needed for normal function. Our hair, nails, skin, and blood are comprised mainly of proteins. When paired with a healthy carbohydrate, dietary protein can act as a “mini-macro (nutrient)-meal” that can help satiate hunger, stabilize blood sugar, and provide slow-burning fuel to help keep energy levels up throughout the day. Consuming adequate protein after strenuous workouts also aids in the recovery process and allows for better workouts the following days.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT?
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the average adult needs .8g per kg of body weight of protein daily. For active individuals, 1.2-1.4g/kg is recommended. And for those engaged in frequent resistance (weight lifting) or endurance training on a daily basis, that number jumps to 1.4-2.0g per kg of body weight per day.
HOW DO I CONSUME ADEQUATE PROTEIN WHILE ON THE GO?
While protein supplements (bars, pre-made shakes, and powders) can be a good choice when finishing a workout, or when there no other options, the bulk of our dietary protein should come through whole or minimally processed foods consumed daily during meals. Here are some great portable proteins, simple to carry and consume, and easy to pair with healthy carbohydrates to make a “mini-macro-meal” with the right proportion of carbs to protein.
Almonds (7g/serving) - great to pair with raisins or dried cranberries
Vacuum packed seasoned tuna (14g/serving)- perfect with a Triscuit cracker
Beef or Turkey jerky (12,13g/serving) - great with dried pineapple
Cheese stick (7g/serving) - great with an apple
Peanut butter (7g/serving) - perfect on a banana
If you have access to the office fridge or use an insulated cold storage bag around town, here are some more great protein options:
Boiled eggs (7g/serving) - pair with clementine oranges for a breakfast on the go
Plain Greek yogurt (18g/serving) - mix with fresh blueberries or strawberries
Cottage Cheese (13g/serving) - great with sliced grape tomatoes
Hummus (3g/serving) - eat with carrots
Soybeans- raw or cooked- (15g/serving) - by themselves or mix with brown rice
Quinoa -cooked- (8g/serving) - mix with spinach for a simple, tasty salad
So don’t let a busy schedule keep you from getting the adequate amount of protein vital to a healthy diet. With a little preparation, you will be ready to hit the office, the gym or the carpool armed with the right amount of tasty high protein ‘mini-macro-meals’ to ensure your energy level is up, your blood sugar is stable, and your workout recovery is on track.