GUEST POST // Eat More Protein!

EAT MORE PROTEIN By The Macro Wizard

We all know by now that protein is good for us. It’s needed for several functions of the body and consuming enough of it coupled with some resistance training can make us look smokin’ hot –yes, this is totally scientifically proven.

A while ago, a good friend of mine told me about how he was “cutting carbs and eating more protein” following his doc’s recommendations, this sounded reasonable if it wasn’t for the bag of walnuts he was munching on while saying it…

My friend swapped bread and pasta for walnuts and quinoa without paying much attention to quantities; the doctor said those things had protein in them so why question it, right? In a couple of weeks my man stopped losing weight and was frustrated with the lack of progress and the complexity of the diet he was following.

The doctor’s recommendations were on point; he needed more protein and probably could do with lowering carbs a bit to help control his total calories –remember that the main driver for weight loss is a calorie deficit– but saying that he needed to eat more nuts and weird ‘superfoods’ was… real nuts. 😉

So, why eating nuts & superfoods isn’t really the way to go and where do we get protein from?

 

Nuts and seeds are a great FAT source as well as being full of minerals and other goodies, BUT THEY ARE NOT A PROTEIN SOURCE.

They are extremely easy to over eat and if you grab a bag and start munching, you could eat over 500kcal worth of food in less than 5 minutes without feeling satisfied.

Not the greatest choice if your calorie budget for the day is around 1.5-2k and you have a minimum amount of protein to hit in order to maintain those sexy muscles of yours.

Same goes for quinoa, chia seeds or any other so called ‘superfoods’ you may have heard of. They surely have their benefits, but they shouldn’t be labeled as high in protein.

This does not mean that you should limit yourself to chicken & broccoli in your quest for a higher protein-lower calorie diet though.

Now, let’s discover where protein really is and how to make it work for you.

Protein grading system. (Similar to what we had in school, but tastier.)

First things first, I didn’t come up with this idea of a protein grading system myself; Mike Vacanti created it and I just tweaked it for my website The Macro Wizard and this article you are now reading.

Credit where credit’s due. 😉

To make it as easy as possible to understand we will measure 4 metrics: macros, cost, satiety index and convenience.

Macros:

We’ll measure a ratio of protein:calories, meaning that a source of protein with a ton of carbs & fat accompanying it –think honey glazed pork ribs, will have the worst rating. High protein but low in carbs and fat? Highest rating. Simple!

Cost:

The biggest complaint I get with protein sources is how expensive they tend to be. In this metric, we will go after the cost per gram of protein to see who’s the winner.

Satiety Index:

Protein is very filling, but there’s still a notable difference between sources. Something with fat, salt and/or sugar can make it easier to overeat and not fill you as much. We’ll evaluate them to see which one leaves us more satisfied when eaten.

Convenience:

We all have a ton of valid excuses to not prep our food in advance so we can have protein choices available when needed. In this metric we will measure how easy they’re to cook or if they can be eaten on the go.

As a gentle reminder, best rating is an ‘A’, whilst the worst is a ‘D’.

Let’s do this!

 

chicken_header

Chicken Breast

chicken-breasts_header

Macros: A
Cost: B (£0.50/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: A
Convenience: C

“The king of protein” as many people like to think of it, is not the most convenient of protein sources, I admit it. You have to cook it and it tends to be quite bland and dry if you don’t pay much attention to it.

Chicken breast is highly versatile though, I’d recommend you get the Fit Men Cook app or something similar to spark your imagination and to get creative in the kitchen. It is also very cost effective at less than £0.5 per each 25g serving of protein.

Thighs, wings and other parts of the chicken are a great source too, just be aware of the fat content that comes with them.

Image source: http://www.bishersmeatpoway.com/breasts/

Lean Beef

lean beef header

Macros: A/B
Cost: C/D (£1.50/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: B/C
Convenience: C

The term ‘lean beef’ applies to those minute steaks you see at the supermarket and other several cuts of lean animal. Don’t be that guy/girl who eats a ribeye thinking it’s a lean choice and then complains for the lack of results, there’s an entire category for other cuts of cow, we’ll get there.

Similar to chicken in macros and satiety index, the best thing is that you can cook it in seconds and it’s way tastier in my opinion. Macros, cost and satiety will be affected by fat content, the leaner it is the pricier it tends to get.

What’s that?

You prefer burgers and fatty steak huh? Me too, let’s move onto them.

Image source: http://eat2life.com/beef/

Fatty Beef

fatty beef header

Macros: C
Cost: C (£1.25/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: D
Convenience: C

This is where that ribeye steak, ribs and all those yummy cuts fall. They tend to contain around 15-20g of fat per 100g, so the macros are not that good. This does not mean that you should avoid it, fatty beef is really tasty, cheaper and full of good nutrients.

Work it into your macros for the day/week and you’ll be golden.

Image source: http://www.eatthis.com/8-fatty-foods-make-you-skinny

Ground Beef – Burgers

ground beef header

Macros: B/C/D (there’s a whole spectrum of fat content here)
Cost: B/C (£1.75/25g of protein if eating out – £0.75/25g if cooking it at home)
Satiety Index: C
Convenience: B

My favourite food of all time without a doubt. I’ve probably eaten over 600 of them over the past 3 years but that’s a different story…

Depending on the type and cut of meat the fat content will vary greatly. A good rule of thumb that I use when eating out is to assign a 20% fat content to it; meaning that if you are eating a 150g patty, just the meat will contain at least 30g of fat and 30g of protein.

Want a tip to turn cheap fatty ground beef into expensive lean ground beef?

Brown the meat in a pan as usual and put some kitchen roll on top of the plate you were planning to transfer it to. Transfer the meat once it’s cooked and let the paper soak most of the juices. Congrats! You know have at least 50% less fat on your meat and have created more space in your macros for cheese, bacon and other toppings… Nice!

Very convenient if eating out. Ask for double meat and the condiments on the side to get a nice kick of protein and control how much fat you eat.

Image source: https://halalmeats.ca

Pork Meat

pork header

Macros: A/B
Cost: B (£1/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: B
Convenience: B

Pork loin or any other lean cuts are really good options. Again, very similar macros to those of chicken or lean beef, very cheap and really versatile when it comes to creating meals.

Bacon and pork chops tend to be fattier so check before eating and make room for them in your day. Cook pork chops on a BBQ to maintain the “A” on the macros, most of the fat will be lost in the cooking process! 😉

Image source: http://somust.eu/web/en/portuguese-quality-meat/

Deli Meat

deli_header

Macros: A/B/C/D (Well, sliced turkey breast is NOT the same as bologna or salami)
Cost: B/C/D (From £1/25g of protein to more than £30, depends on your choice)
Satiety Index: B
Convenience: A

Turkey, ham, chicken, chorizo… All of those are very valid and convenient options. These are a staple of mine when I feel a bit peckish and I’m out and about. They tend to have a ton of sodium but that shouldn’t be an issue, just don’t make deli meats your only source of protein and you will be A-OK.

Nope, they’re not the cause of cancer nor their sodium content is a problem. Do you have hypertension or some similar cardiac problem and your doc has advised you against it? Then don’t eat it. Not your case? Good for you, grab some serrano ham for me please.

You can use them in sandwiches, create stunning antipasto tables or even throw them in salads.

Image source: http://schwabmeat.com/shop/sandwich-sliced-smoked-ham.html

Whole Eggs

eggs header

Macros: C
Cost: A (£0.4/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: B
Convenience: B

Cholesterol? Check. Nice, tasty and filling fat? Check. There is nothing wrong with eating whole eggs. In fact, they’re one of my favourite ingredients to use on my daily meals. I use eggs everywhere and you should too –assuming you have no related food intolerances.

Just account for the 5-6g of fat that come with it and enjoy the ease of cooking and versatility of it.

If you want to lower the calories and fat content of a meal, substitute a few whole eggs for their little brother, the egg white. Speaking of which…

Image source: https://www.washingtonpost.com

Egg Whites

egg whites header

Macros: A
Cost: C (£1.5/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: B
Convenience: A/B

Avoid throwing yolks out and get your whites in a bottle or a carton, they come pasteurised and are great to be used when baking or creating protein treats.

I’ve also used them in the past to make chicken & chorizo omelettes with tons of cheese on them, you can play with your macros in any way you want!

Even more convenient than whole eggs but 3-4 times as expensive. Your choice.

Image source: http://www.thepescetarianandthepig.com

 

 

fish_header

Lean Fish

fish header

Macros: A
Cost: B/C (£1.2 – £2/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: B
Convenience: C

Fish tends to be pretty lean in general but I we’ll be better of if we create two separate categories. In this one in particular you’ll see things like tuna, hake, cod, etc…

Depending on how you choose to cook it, you could add a ton of carbs and fat to them so pay attention. I usually just throw them in the oven with some garlic, herbs and lemon and I’m good to go.

Always keep a pack of frozen fish at hand, it may save your life when you get stuck with no ideas or desire to cook dinners/lunches.

Image source: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-fish-on-the-stovetop-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-204805

Fatty Fish

salmon header

Macros: B
Cost: B/C (£1.2 – £2/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: B
Convenience: C

In here you’ll find sardines, salmon, mackerel and swordfish amongst others. There is plenty written about the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids and these guys are full of them.

As easy –or even easier– to cook than their lean counterparts, just heat a pan and create a nice sear for 30 seconds to a minute, add some lemon and soy sauce to the pan and wait for an extra minute or so. Quick, easy and tasty!

Image source: http://mealandaspiel.com/fatty-fish-salmon-tuna-black-cod/

Shellfish

shellfish header

Macros: A
Cost: C/D (From £3/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: B
Convenience: B

Prawns, mussels, crab, lobster, squid… You’ll find plenty of tasty foods in this category.

Shellfish tends to be very, very lean, so it’s a solid option when eating out or grabbing some tapas. Prawns make a great freezer must-have for speedy dinners that are chockfull of protein and veggies.

Their cholesterol content might scare but fear not, shellfish are a very healthy food source and you should not worry about cholesterol at all; more on this topic by Dr. Spencer Nadolsky here.

Some supermarkets also sell cooked prawns and other kinds of shellfish, these are the true protein bars and not those Quest things… 😉

Image source: http://www.cuisineactuelle.fr/recettes/langoustines-a-l-americaine-243582

 

milk_header

Milk

milk header

Macros: C
Cost: A/B (£0.3/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: C/D
Convenience: B

There’s a ton of carbs and fat that come along with milk depending on which variety you go for so, while the protein:calorie ratio isn’t that great, it is very convenient.

I try to see milk as an ‘add on’ rather than a source of protein itself. Add it to your protein pancake mix in the morning, use it to add texture to oatmeal or make some delicious cappuccinos by frothing it.

Choose whole, semi skimmed, skimmed or any other variety you feel like, just double check the label and you’re good to go!

Image source: http://www.53-weeks.com/2015/01/21/im-the-mommy-to-a-milk-monster.html

Quark or Fromage Frais

quark header

Macros: B
Cost: A (£0.3/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: B
Convenience: B

Quark is a type of fresh cheese that’s also found as “fromage frais” or “queso batido desnatado” if you are venturing in the Spanish supermarket scene.

You may need some sweetener, fruit, cookies or any other topping to make it awesome but this bad boy has some incredible macros and it’s one of the cheapest sources of protein out there.

Cottage cheese it’s also worth mentioning here. It’s slightly higher in protein that quark but the texture isn’t appealing to some. Try and see for yourself!

Need inspiration? You can use quark as a high protein frosting, make frozen ‘yogurt’ or even create some awesome protein cheesecakes.

Keep an eye on the flavoured and sweetened varieties, they tend to have added carbs and/or fat.

Image source: http://www.sandiegofoodstuff.com/2014/01/elli-quark-comes-to-san-diego.html

Greek Yogurt

yoghurt header

Macros: A/B/C (Fat content varies between products, check the labels)
Cost: B/C (£1/25g of protein)
Satiety Index: A/B
Convenience: B

Superfoods? Forget goji berries and get some greek yogurt going.

The texture is AMAZING and is incredibly versatile. You can create all kinds of sauces, condiments and desserts with it and enjoy the great macro profile that it has –around 11g of protein per 100g.

As with the quark and others, check the labels: 100g of Fage’s Total 0% it’s 10p, 4c, 0f and has 56kcal. 100g of Danone’s Densia it’s 4p, 23c, 4f and it provides us with 144 kcal, big difference.

Image source: http://www.foodandwine.com

FAQ

WHAT’S WITH ALL THOSE SUPERFOODS, SEEDS AND GREENS THAT SEEM TO CURE EVERYTHING NOWADAYS?

Do you like them? Enjoy their taste? Eat them!
They will not hurt you and they’ll possibly add some great vitamins and minerals to your overall diet. Just don’t see them as a ‘healthier’ option or think that you are getting a huge dose of protein by eating them.

There’s no evidence that leads us to believe that there are good or bad foods. Think bigger and longer term. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too, be smart!

I’M A VEGETARIAN, WHAT CAN I DO TO GET MORE PROTEIN IN MY DIET?

Great question. I would suggest focusing on eating eggs, allowing some seafood or shellfish in your diet and giving soy products a go. Pea protein is being used lately to make vegan protein powder and it actually has a more than decent amino acid profile.

 

 ~

Your diet should be enjoyed and include the foods you like on a daily basis, don’t make it hard on yourself thinking you need to eat an exact amount of protein. Try to “get enough” and make use of all of the carbs and tasty fats that make up most of your food choices. There’s nothing wrong with it!

Quality of life matters.

 

 


macro wizard image

After losing about 65kgs (and succumbing to a period of obsession) Mr Macro Wizard decided to go about his diet the scientific way, leaving all the fads and nonsense behind him. Since then, he has earned himself a PHD, appeared on Mens Health, travelled the world, ate many a burger and most importantly, is reaching out to others to help them on their own journey. 

 

Article written by The Macro Wizard, (first of many we hope) if you have not checked him out… what are you waiting for?! You can find him on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and most importantly via his website. (His Instagram may make you a bit jealous though with his travelling and epic foodscapades).

 

You can also find the Spanish version of this article here.


We hope you enjoyed reading this article, get involved… tweet us @themusclebakery & @themacrowizard #EatMoreProtein and tell us your thoughts!


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