Eating healthy is important, but it can be tiring to find the right kind of food to eat. Should you eat organic vegetables, fruit, grass-fed beef, or juice? And that’s only before you start thinking of what kind of nutrients, carbs, fats, and protein you need to intake daily.
Fortunately, after doing tons of research, here are some of the most important macronutrients for active people and why filling up on these are a key part of your diet. Right from breakfast to dinner, using a daily protein intake calculator will help you understand the kind of diet you need to follow to ensure adequate protein intake.
Why is protein so important?
Think of your body as an engine and protein as the fuel required to keep the engine running smoothly. Protein is required to support hormones, hair, skin, muscle, immune cells, and other protein tissues. Besides this after a workout session, protein is broken down into amino acids to repair the damaged muscle fibres and build them back stronger. Reducing your protein intake can lead to muscle loss, fatigue, weak hair and nails, and low immunity. But here’s the thing, everyone’s protein intake is different depending on their body needs.
How much protein does your body need?
While you can find out your daily protein intake calculator, there are some general rules to follow to help guide you. The minimum amount of protein required for your body to function properly should be 0.36 grams for each pound you weigh. In your overall macro mix (gram-to-gram) there are 4 calories of protein, 4 of carbs, and 9 calories of fat. An expert dietician, Molly Kimball R.D suggested that fit women need more than that – this can be the minimum requirement but in order to improve muscle growth and minimize the risk of injury, your body needs much more protein. If you use a protein calculator to check how much protein you actually need, it will depend on your lifestyle choices. People who are more active like gym-goers, athletes will need more as their body goes through daily wear and tear, as compared to someone who has an office job and a sedentary lifestyle. The protein counter for an active 130-pound person (59kg) should be roughly 24 grams or 97 grams depending on the amount of activity. If your vegan or vegetarian and are concerned about your protein needs, the best course of action besides checking a protein calculator would be visiting a professional dietician. Here are a couple of protein-focused meal options: –
- Breakfast – An omelette made from one or two organic eggs packs around 12 grams of protein, paired alongside some veggies, avocado, and a side of plain pea yoghurt (or Greek yoghurt) can get you another 12 grams. Another option is to try scrambling up two eggs in muffin tins and pairing them with whole wheat toast for an early morning boost of 22 grams of protein.
- Lunch – The protein counter for a healthy lunch can be a large salad with extra virgin olive oil, grilled chicken breast, and balsamic vinegar for 14 grams of protein. Add half a cup of cooked quinoa, half a cup of chickpeas and that gives you 24 grams in total. An old school turkey wrap with whole-grain bread will give you about 25 grams of protein.
- Dinner – Broiled Alaskan salmon with one cup of brussels sprouts, a bit of cauliflower, some extra virgin oil, and one cup of cooked spaghetti will give you around 25 grams of protein. If seafood isn’t your go-to, try a bean bowl packed with mixed greens, veggies, and fruit for an easy 22.5 grams of protein.
- Snack ideas – Snacks like protein bars pack 10 grams of proteins and 90 calories. They are easy to carry on the go and perfect for cravings. Other healthy snacks include pistachios and some cottage cheese.
The Bottom Line
Protein is important but usually, if you are eating a balanced diet, you are most likely hitting your daily intake. Aim for more protein-rich foods throughout the day and make sure you visit a registered dietician to help guide you better.