Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the human body, making up about 16 percent of our total body weight. Muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue are mainly made up of protein.
Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids. Our bodies can manufacture most of the needed amino acids, but nine of them must be gotten from our diets. Animal proteins such as meat, eggs, and dairy products have all the amino acids, and many plants have some of them.
It is important to remember when you are cutting calories in order to lose weight that you should NOT cut back on protein foods. Instead, start by cutting out empty calories such as sweets and sweetened beverages. Next, cut way back on fried foods. If you're still looking for calories to cut, scale down your portions of bread, pasta, cereals, and other grain-based foods.
One reason that we want to make sure we are taking in adequate protein when we try to lose weight is that we want to lose extra fat rather than muscle tissue. In a recent study researchers wanted to see if increasing the amount of protein in the diet might protect against muscle loss during weight loss. And it turns out, it does!
For the study they divided a bunch of overweight people into three groups. One group ate the Recommended Daily Allowance for protein, which amounts to about 10% of calories, or 50g per day. The second group ate twice that much and a third group ate 3 times that much. All of these diets, by the way, fall within the Institute of Medicine's acceptable range of 10-35% of calories from protein.
Then, the researchers put all three groups on a calorie-restricted diet (where each group ate different percentages of protein but ate an equal low total amounts of calories) The results showed that all 3 groups lost about the same amount of weight--approximately 2 pounds a week. But there was one big difference....
The group that ate 20% of their calories from protein (which translates to about 100 grams or approximately 3/4 of a gram per pound of body weight) lost less muscle and more fat than the group eating half that much.
This means that more of that hard won weight loss was actually due to fat loss. Also more muscle tissue is left behind to burn up calories, making that weight loss easier to maintain. But there is no need to go over board! The group that was eating the most protein (30% of calories) didn't do any better than the folks in the middle group.
So the question is are we eating sufficient amounts of protein daily?
Calculate Protein Needs
To determine your daily protein needs, you must first know your weight in kg. To convert your body weight into kg, simply divide your weight in lb by 2.2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight for healthy individuals. If you are under stress or moderately to vigorously active, use a number between 1.1 and 1.8 per day. To calculate your protein needs, multiply your weight in kg by the number of g of protein you require each day. For example, if you are a healthy individual and weigh 70 kg, your protein needs would be 56 g of protein per day. If you are moderately active and weight 85 kg, you need 99 g of protein daily.
And did you know you can customize your myfitnesspal?
To change what nutrients are tracked: Go to settings/ click on diary settings/ click on change and you can track the nutrients you are concerned about
To change what number you are attempting to reach in any nutrient category: go to Home/ click on Goals/ Click on Change Goals
So you have probably guessed that our challenge for this week is:
1. Calculate how many grams of protein you should be eating per day.
2. Adjust myfitnesspal if needed to track you toward that number
3. For every day that you eat adequate protein you earn the daily 5 challenge points
You might want to look over our previous weeks and see if you generally eat enough protein. I eat very little meat so I fall short most days. I guess that’s why I chose this challenge. If you always get enough and will automatically earn the points this week you might want to unofficially challenge yourself to get the adequate amounts in another nutrient category.