Optimizing Protein for Health
Full transcription available at the bottom of this post
Time to Focus on Food
In this podcast, we talk a lot about the mental game of overcoming stress eating, emotional eating, food obsession, and over eating. We talk a lot about the mindset piece, and it's SO important, but that's only half the equation. The Healthy Mind side of the equation. We need to also spend some time talking about the Healthy Body side of the equation. So for the next few weeks we're going to focus on food because truly, they both work together. Fixing the food, fixing how your body works, will make it so much easier to deal with how your mind works. They both very much work together, and we need to understand both.
It's January and many of you probably started some sort of healthy eating plan, to eat cleaner, to eat healthier, to work on the food. And that's amazing! I want to help you along with that, I want to give you some real science backed ideas about food so the next three episodes we're focusing on the 3 macronutrients, proteins, fats, and carbs.
We're starting with protein in this episode because in my opinion it's the most important macronutrient for you to optimize in your diet. For those of you in perimenopause or menopause especially, getting enough protein is SO important for hormone production, and muscle mass protection. Most women don't get enough protein and a whole host of issues could be improved if you did - so listen up for the details!
And it's not too late to join HMHB for 2023, it's still open through January. So if you think you're ready for more, then the HMHB Program and Membership is ready for you! (check your email for 10% off!)
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Show Notes & Transcript:
Welcome back to the podcast, my friends, I'm so glad you're here. But the next few weeks, we're gonna focus on food. And I know in this podcast, we talk a lot about the mental game of overcoming stress eating emotional eating food obsession, over eating, right, we talk a lot about that mindset piece. And that is super important, but it's really half the equation. It's the Healthy Mind side of the equation. The other half that we need to talk about is the healthy body side. So I'm going to spend a little bit of time in the next few weeks really focusing on food. Because truly both of these things work together, it's all happening in the same body. Fixing the food and fixing how your body works, is actually going to make it so much easier for you to deal with how your mind works. So in January, a lot of you have probably started trying to eat healthier, eat cleaner, really kind of work on the food and get better food in your body. And that's amazing. I applaud you Good job, I want to help. So I want to give you some real science backed ideas about food. And so in these first three episodes, we're going to talk about macronutrients proteins, fats, and carbs. We're going to talk about protein today, because in my opinion, it's the most important macronutrient to focus on and to optimize for your health. So if you're ready to tackle food, let's go.
Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life in the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I'm on a mission to help you take back control of your mind health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health, find food freedom. And finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You, my friend are powerful, and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward.
So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes, let's walk and talk.
Before we get started, I want to remind you that it's right now, January 2023, the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program is still open through the month of January. So if you're listening to this, and you missed our early January start, don't worry, there's still time, if you're on the email list, then you have a 10% off code that you can use to the end of January to join us and healthy mind healthy body to make sure you're on the email list. You've either signed up for the newsletter or any of those three workbooks that are on the website TerraForm and.com. So if you still want to join us, it's not too late, you've got to the end of the month, but it will be closed down for a little while after that. So come on in, we're ready for you get in while you still can.
Okay, so let's talk about the protein. Again, we talk a lot on this podcast about that mental game, your relationship with food, right? rebuilding your relationship with food with your body with yourself. But the other half of that is how is your body actually working? Food is very much a self fulfilling prophecy, the better food you eat, the easier it is to eat better food. And I really just want to clarify here because I don't want to get into the good food, bad food rules. Because when we do that, it becomes not about the food anymore. And it becomes about the guilt and the shame associated with the food. So we have to be able to have an honest conversation about food quality, because the fact is some foods better for your health than other food. So I just want you to sort of in your brain make a line here that we are talking about food and quality of food, aside from your feelings about food. So set the feelings aside so that the guilt and the shame and whatever else goes through your head aside, we're just going to have an honest conversation about the quality of food and check yourself here because of the first place your brain goes when I start talking about food is that oh my gosh, I've been totally doing this wrong. Oh no, I've been eating that. And I shouldn't have been Oh no, I should have been eating that. But not this. Right. If the first place your brain goes when we're talking about food quality and food in general, is how you've been doing it wrong and you're terrible. I need you to notice that okay, I need you to be able to notice that and understand. We need to be able to separate those things. Instead of thinking about how horrible you are think about Wow, okay, I just learned something new. How can I incorporate that something new it's a very different perspective, but I really want you to check your brain while you listen to this. Cool, okay?
So we're gonna start again with macronutrients. Macro just means large. It's the things that you need in the largest quantities in order to survive proteins, carbs and fats, as opposed to a micronutrient, which is the things that you need in lesser quantities in order to survive like vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, etc. I'm starting with protein, because again, protein, in my opinion, is the most important macronutrient for you to optimize in your diet, especially for those of us over about 35 - 40 Especially for those of us in perimenopause, and menopause, because during that time, we are experiencing hormone depletion, muscle depletion, bone depletion, we really need to be feeding our bodies the things that it needs to keep repairing itself and keep itself healthy. Protein is that thing we need to build muscle, we need to build bone, we need to build hormones, we need to build structures in our body, and we need a protein to do that. So protein, when it's broken down consists of amino acids. And your body uses those amino acids as the building blocks for literally every structure in your body, muscle hair, skin, organs, hormones, your immune system and all parts of it. Cellular repair making more blood cells, nucleic acids, every structure in your body needs amino acids in order to be formed. So aside from water, amino acids are actually the most abundant molecule in your entire body. So it's very important that you're bringing enough on board in the form of protein.
So there's 20 different amino acids and eight of those amino acids your body can't actually make on its own, which means you need to ingest them through your diet, your body is always in a state of breaking down and building up. So we need to be able to give our body the building blocks it needs in order to build itself back up. So if you want things like thick, healthy hair, and nice clear skin and healthy joints and healthy hormones, you need to be eating enough protein, you need to be bringing enough amino acids on board in order to build those things in your bodies. Protein is also really important because Calorie for calorie, it's more satiating than any of the other macronutrients. So that means that you can eat fewer calories of protein, but feel full faster and longer. So if you're trying to lose weight, you can see how that would be very useful, the ability to eat less, but feel more full for longer, that's going to be a big deal for you in weight loss. And in weight management. When you eat adequate protein, then just by nature, you're going to eat less of the other stuff, you're gonna eat less carbs, less fat, less processed foods, less peanut m&ms, whatever it is, right? Because you're not going to feel as hungry because you filled up on a good protein source. The other really cool thing about protein is that it has a higher thermic effect than carbs or fats. So in most basic terms, what that means is that you burn more calories, aka energy to digest protein, then you do to digest carbohydrates and fats. So not only are you getting more satiation, which is just that feeling of like I've had enough, I can stop eating, you're getting more satiation and you burn more energy in order to digest that protein. So it's like a win win all the way around with protein.
So we need to have a real conversation about sources of protein. And this might sound a little controversial, I don't really think it is, but I just want you to understand the science of it. So animals, sources of protein are the most bioavailable sources of protein, there is no question about it, the science is very clear about this. Your body prefers animal proteins, it can break it down into its amino acid profiles easier. And it will absorb those amino acids easier when it comes from animal protein. That's what bio availability means. It means how, how efficiently can your body break it down and use it. animal proteins contain all 20 amino acids, including those nine essential amino acids. With very few exceptions, most plant protein sources do not contain those nine essential amino acids. So almost everything you eat has some protein in it. But again, what you're looking for is the amount of protein, the bioavailability of that protein and the amino acid profile to make sure you're getting all of those amino acids every day.
In general, I coach women to have a varied diet. So you're not going to see me promoting extreme things. Like for example, right now, I see very popularized this carnivore diet, it's very high protein at the expense of eating plants. So it's like anti plant, just eat a bunch of meat, people are claiming they're getting great results from this, and maybe they are short term and there's a few reasons I could think of for that, but there's really no long term efficacy studies on overall health and eating this way. So while you might get short term gains, I would be concerned in a carnivore diet about the long term health, and they really just don't have the science to back up any long term health claims. So I'm a little leery of the carnivore diet, it's not something I'm going to promote to you. I'm definitely more in favor of a very diet. But by the same token, if I'm going to use the same logic, then I also consider a vegan or entirely plant based diet extreme as well, because it's the same logic, if I'm going to say that it is extreme to eat only meat and not plants, then I would also say that it's extreme to eat only plants and not me, I have to be logically and intellectually honest about this. The long term efficacy studies of vegan diets show that in order to maintain long term health, you still have to optimize protein which is harder on a vegan or entirely plant based diet. And you have to take supplements for the nutrients that animal sources provide that plant sources don't so again, for me, while you might have a short term success on a carnivore diet, a keto diet, a plant based or vegan diet, when you're thinking long term health, I don't think personally, any of those three are sustainable for long term health, I would gear you towards a diet that includes all three of those things, animal proteins, plants, and fats. And I would encourage you to find the ratio of those nutrients that work the best for you. We're all a little bit different. The point here is varied sources.
Okay, so when we're talking about protein, then you want varied sources of protein. You want to eat lean meats, like chicken, but you also want fattier meats like a fish or red meat an egg. And you can eat some plants sources of protein as well, a varied diet, you want to eat lots of different things. If you choose to get protein only from plants and not from animal sources. Keep in mind that the vast majority of plants do not contain complete amino acid profiles. So you have to make sure that you're being very intentional about mixing and matching plant sources so that you get all of your amino acids needs met, but also that you're just getting enough protein in general, when it comes to animal sources of proteins. Quality really matters. Obviously, a grass fed ground beef is going to be better than a hot dog, a free range chicken breast is going to be better than a chicken nugget. So like any food source doesn't matter what the food source is any food source, the less processed, the less exposed to chemicals, the better for you. The higher quality, the better. Now does higher quality, meat cost more? Yes, it does higher quality, anything costs more hair quality car costs more, right? Higher quality always cost more. So we do need to accept that fact. It's just the fact of life.
So what you're thinking about then is not so much focusing on this manufactured meat factory farmed meat, as it's just not as good for you. It's lower quality. It's often full of hormones and antibiotics and preservatives and all kinds of other things. So I usually advise people to take this in stages. Okay, so the first point is that you just want to make sure you're getting enough protein, and we're gonna talk about that in a second. Just get enough. And then you can start to analyze the quality of the sources of the protein that you're getting. So can you this month spraying for wild caught salmon over farmed salmon? Can you buy organic free range beef from a local butcher instead of from the grocery store? Can you buy organic dairy from animals that were not treated with hormones and antibiotics? Can you find organic free range chicken and eggs, it's just a movement from lower quality animal protein sources to higher quality animal protein sources, it doesn't need to be all or nothing, it doesn't need to be all right now. Okay, set aside your guilt trip for a second, you can move into improving the quality of your animal protein sources over time, okay, because it does cost a little bit more money. However, if you find things like internet resources, and especially if you buy local local butchers local farms, you actually might find that it's not that much more money in order to do that in order to get a better quality animal protein source. It could be just as simple as chopping local, or even just a Costco choosing the organic hormone free chicken over the regular chicken right like little changes, just increasing the quality of the animal protein that you're choosing cool.
I want to talk about protein supplements really fast. A lot of people use protein supplements pocket and like mostly shakes and bars and stuff like that. The same rule applies here. We're looking at bioavailability and we're looking at quality sources. So in general, whey protein is going to be more bioavailable than plant protein. But if you have dairy issues, any sort of dairy issues, whey is not going to be a great choice for you. So like for me, I can't do whey or any other dairy based protein powder or source. And so I use a plant based vegan protein powder. Now there's other options I've seen like egg powder, and all kinds of other things like if you want to get real specific go for it. But the most things that I see people using is either a way or a plant based vegan one. Most whey and, and plant based vegan protein powders are total crap, they are highly processed chemical fake foods that I literally would not touch with a 10 foot pole, it's all processed food, some are better than others. A lot of protein powders also are going to contain sugars and sweeteners and a bunch of other junk that's totally negating any positive effects that you might be getting from that supplement itself. So when you're looking at protein powders and bars, you want to not only look at how much protein is in it, but you want to look at the source of the protein, you want to look at how that product was manufactured? How did they get the protein from the way? How did they get the protein from the peas and the rice? Like what was the process? Is that? Is it a highly chemical process? Or was it a different process? What is the ratio of protein to carbs to fat, if you have a protein powder that has 15 grams of protein, but it has 27 grams of sugar, like you're kind of negating the whole point of this of taking that supplement, right? Look at the rest of the ingredients is it full of fillers and gums and artificial sweeteners and colors and flavors and a bunch of junk, I wouldn't choose that one, right, you want to get to the very basics that you possibly can.
Another point about whey protein and plant based protein is that it's absorbed really fast, because it's already broken down, right. If you eat a piece of chicken, your body has to work really hard in order to break down that piece of chicken into amino acids. So it can absorb them a whey protein, you don't have to break down, it's already broken down. So it's not going to be as satiating. It's not going to make you feel full as fast or for as long. So while it might be very bioavailable, it's not going to be as satiating. In general, yes, there are good protein powders out there. And there are good protein bars out there. But I would not use this as a food source, I would use this as a sometimes thing that I need to fill in. Because I didn't get enough or I'm on the go or whatever it is that makes sense. It's a processed food. And so what we're trying to do in general is eat less processed foods.
Okay, quick reminder here to collagen does not count as a protein supplement. Collagen is not a complete protein. So if you take collagen, that's probably fine for you great if you like it great. But just know that it is not a full amino acid profile, it does not count as a protein supplement. So you are going to be taking that in addition to getting enough protein in your diet. Makes sense. Cool.
Okay, so how much protein do we need, then? If you search this up online, if you Google, how much protein should I eat, you're gonna get a ton of different answers. The RDA, the recommended daily allowance for protein is point three, six grams per pound of body weight. So for a 150 pound person, that's only 54 grams of protein per day. Honestly, that's not very much. This, in my opinion, should be considered your minimum baseline. The RDA numbers, those are the numbers from the government are literally the baseline that you need in order to stay alive. But I am not interested in just keeping you alive. I want you to thrive. I want you to be optimized in your health, not just surviving. So in general, we're gonna go above the RDA for most things. Here's some more examples. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 80 to 116 grams of protein a day for a 150 pound person. The International Society of Sports Medicine recommends a 95 to 136 grams of protein per day for a 150 pound person. More recent studies are recommending even higher amounts of protein somewhere in the 80 to 150 gram range for that 150 pound person. That's about point eight to one gram of protein per body weight.
So what's right for you? I don't know. But I do know that women and perimenopause, menopause, women trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss or working out especially heavy working out like CrossFitters lifting, lifting lots of weights, you're going to need increased protein. So in general, for overall health, weight loss, weight maintenance, I tend to fall in the camp of advising somewhere about 30 to 40% of your daily calories coming from protein. So for 150 pound person that looks like about 100 grams of protein per day. So let's just compare again the RDA says about 54 grams of protein per day for 150 pound person and I'm recommending somewhere in the range of 100 grams of protein per day for 150 pound person. My very generalized recommendation then is about .6 - .8 grams of protein per per pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, that's about 90 to 120 grams of protein a day, women after menopause, who are no longer menstruating, and women who strength train are going to want to be on the higher end of those numbers. Now, again, every one is different, everyone's body biochemically is in a different state than everyone else's. And so you need to take that into account. That's why I'm saying I'm giving you very generalized protein recommendations here. Because for you, it might be slightly less might be slightly more might be right in the middle. For me personally, I know that I tend to operate better on a higher protein diet, I thrive with more protein, other people might thrive with less protein and slightly higher carbs, we're all a little bit different. So I just want you to keep that in mind, this is not like a, you must do this. This is a range that you should be shooting for and see how you feel.
So the simplest way to track your protein then is using hand measurements. This is what I teach clients on the Healthy Mind Healthy Body program with a few other ways as well. One serving of protein is about the size of the palm of your hand, that would be about 20 to 30 grams of protein. So that looks like about three to four ounces of a cooked meat, two whole eggs, one cup Greek yogurt, just so you have some reference here, those things are going to be about 20 to 30 grams of protein. So if you're shooting for 90 to 120 grams, you're going to need about four to six poems of protein a day making sense. Are you eating that? Probably not. So here's where you're gonna start. First, I just want you to pay attention to how much protein you're eating in a day. So just track it for a little while. Track your protein, okay, well, today, I only ate two poems, oh, my gosh, yesterday only had one, track how much you're eating right now on a daily basis, and then just start bumping it up, bump it up to three, bump it up to four, bump it up to five, bump it up to six, and just see how you feel along the way. If you keep feeling better and better, and you keep maybe losing weight or just feeling good or sleeping better, or your skin's looking good. Keep at it right, you have to kind of play with it be around scientists and find the sweet spot for you because it's a little bit different for everyone.
If you weigh more than this 150 pound example person, you're going to need to figure out your own total. So take that .6 - .8 grams, multiply it by your pounds of body weight to figure out how many grams of protein you should be eating in a day. And then use our POM method. So one POM again 20 to 30 grams of protein. So divide your total grams of protein by 20, or 30, or 25 is a good number to use. And that'll tell you how many Poms you should be shooting for in a day. Make sense. And then work up to that number from wherever you're at. This is not an all or nothing, this is never an all or nothing. So again, things that you want to think about. animal proteins are superior and are more bioavailable, but I want you to eat varied sources of protein. I want you to think about quality of protein, and then I want you to think about quantity of protein and getting enough in your day. Make sense? Okay, guys, I hope that was helpful. Give this a try. Tell me if you're working on it. I would love I love to get feedback from you guys. And then next week, we're gonna talk about fats don't don't don't. Alright, until we talk again. My friends be well.
Hey, friends, thanks so much for being here. If you found value in today's episode, will you do me a favor and head over to iTunes? Find the no nonsense wellness podcast and subscribe and leave me a review. It would mean the world to me and help other people find the show. And I'd love to connect with you more. So find me on Instagram. I'm @tarafaulmann. Take a screenshot of this episode and share it in your stories and tag me. I'll see you over there.