How to Eat More Protein

If you are or have been my client you know that my first piece of nutrition is advice is “eat more protein.” Everyone should aim for .8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, a 135-pound woman needs about 120 to 135 grams of protein a day. If you are like most people, you find this to be a challenge! Never fear… here are three tips to help you meet your daily protein goal, helping you lose weight and gain muscle in the process (if you are watching calories and exercising consistently, that is).

Aim for at least 20 to 30 grams of protein in each meal and/or snack. If 120 grams is your goal, four meals of 30 grams each will get you there! Foods that have that much include:

4-6 ounces of chicken
4-6 ounces of tuna
4-6 ounces of beef
4-6 ounces of ground turkey
If you don’t eat meat, you can try:
1/2 to 1 cup of cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups of lentils
1 1/2 cups of tofu
Container of Greek yogurt

Eat your protein first.

This tip is especially important for when you go out to eat! When you sit down to a meal, eat the protein first. This way you won’t fill up on, say, bread or something else before you can get to the main part of your meal! Protein needs to be paired with fat and carbs to be optimally absorbed in your body so make sure you eat a balanced meal. Stir fry recipes are a great way to go.

Consider whey protein powder and/or collagen peptide supplements. Protein powder is a great way to meet your target intake and truthfully most people do need it to get there. I have a shake nearly ever day, sometimes just mixed with water after a workout and other times mixed with a banana, almond milk, nut butter or berries. There is nothing wrong with using protein powder to reach your goals. There are plenty of brands on the market, including plant-based and dairy or gluten free versions. Pick some up and use it at the end of the day, if you need a little bit more.

A Simple Weight Loss Formula

Weight loss doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, there are a few things that, if you do them consistently, you WILL see change.

  1. Eat enough protein – so many people don’t eat enough protein. If you are trying to build or sustain muscle, especially as you age, you should get .8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you are significantly overweight, aim for .6 grams per pound. Is that more than you are used to eating? If you’re like most Americans, it probably is! Try to incrementally increase your protein intake by making sure you get at least 20 grams per meal, then work your way up from there either from eating a few ounces more of meat or adding a snack or extra meal. You might be wondering why this is a weight loss approach, if I’m advising you to eat MORE? Protein is satiating, meaning it fills you up. You won’t have room to eat all the junk. Give it a try!
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables – these are not only healthy but filling, too. Plus, you need fiber and micronutrients that they provide.
  3. Eat less processed foods – concentrating on real, whole foods instead of those that come from a box is essential for helping you lose weight. Processed foods can be anywhere from 300 to 500 calories and they often are high in fat and carbohydrates, too, including sugar. Eliminating them can go a long way.
  4. Increase resistance training, decrease cardio – the more muscle your body has, the more it can burn naturally on its own all day long. Instead of doing endless cardio, set a step goal for yourself. I aim for 7 to 8 thousand steps a day. Then, make sure you are lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises at least three times per week to build and maintain muscle.

Try these four things and let me know how it goes! I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised!

Why BMI is Bogus

The Body Mass Index has been around a long time. It’s still the number one tool physicians use to determine whether patients are at a healthy weight. This is a problem. Because it’s not accurate! It’s a 200-year-old mathematical formula created for a specific purpose. Since then, its use has been called into question as studies show it’s not the best way to measure body size.

A Belgian named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet created the BMI formula in the early 19th century. He was a mathematician, not a physician. He produced the formula to give a quick and easy way to measure the degree of obesity of the general population to assist the government in allocating resources. It wasn’t tested and fails to account for waist size, bone structure, muscle mass, and more.

This is a huge problem because often insurance companies will charge more for someone who has a higher BMI, even though that person could be a healthy, fit individual who happens to carry a lot more muscle on their frame. It’s also not helpful for smaller individuals whose health markers are all positive; they just happen to be petite.

So, what should we use to determine obesity? Waist to height ratio is emerging as one of the best ways and it’s an easy formula. All you need to do is measure your waist, just below your belly button. Divide that number (in centimeters) by your height (also in centimeters) and voila! Women want a number below .49 and men below .52. Basically, you want your waist to be no more than half your height.

Ditch the Scale

You may be wondering how weight fits into this. Well, it’s complicated. Your weight is determined by your muscle mass and fat mass. People who have more muscle weigh more because, well, muscle weighs more. Women also have a challenging time tracking weight due to the the fluctuations in their weight caused by hormones and the menstrual cycle. Plus, just because you thought you looked hot in your 20s when you weighed 130 pounds doesn’t mean you’ll look hot today at that same weight. Bodies change, muscle mass decreases with age and that 130 might not be healthy for you anymore.

Recommendations

I recommend the following, if you are trying to determine a healthy weight for yourself.

  1. Calculate your waist to height ratio. If it’s high, you know you need to lose a few pounds.
  2. Weigh yourself on a scale that also shows body fat percentage. While that number may not be entirely accurate, it will show trend over time and help you determine if your interventions (e.g. building muscle, eating fewer calories) are moving the body fat percentage down, and the lean mass up.
  3. Take a photo of yourself from the front, side, and back. This is your “before.” Every four weeks, take the same photos again, preferably with the same clothing on. See if you look different.
  4. Pay attention to how your clothes fit. Are they looser? Fitting differently around the lower body? These are indicators of shape changing or muscle being added and fat being lost in all the right places.

Achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight requires consistent exercise and healthy nutrition. If you need help in either or both of these areas, drop your name and email below! I’m happy to help!

Canning Tomatoes

It’s late summer and in our house, that’s canning season. The first crop to come in were the cucumbers. My husband jarred dozens of pickles, relish, and more. Next up? Tomatoes. That’s where I jumped in on the canning fun.

It’s pretty crazy that you can in the summer because it’s always 90 degrees! If you’ve ever used a water bath canner, you know it gets pretty steamy! Literally! But, all that uncomfortable heat is worth it to have fresh sauce, salsa, and tomatoes through the fall and winter season. For one thing, you know the ingredients are all natural. Plus, who can resist homemade tomato sauce? I know I can’t!

This year, I canned:

10 pints of salsa

9 tomato basil sauce quarts

5 marinara sauce (quarts and a couple pints for pizza)
26 pints of diced tomatoes
50 jars altogether! If I had to estimate, I’d say it was about 300 tomatoes. It took me all day Saturday, half of Sunday and a couple evenings to get all that done. I do the sauce the lazy way in the crockpot. Here’s my recipe:
25 Roma tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion
Large handful of fresh basil, chopped
Add it to the crockpot in the order above and turn it on low for 8 to 12 hours. Use a hand blender to blend well and fill quart-sized jars using a funnel. This recipe makes two quart-sized jars (about the size of a sauce jar you get at the grocery store) or four to five pints (about the size of a pizza sauce jar at the grocery store).
Boil your jars before filling. Add filled jars to the canner, making sure there are a couple of inches of water above the tops of the jars. Boil them on a low boil for 45 minutes. Remove, and let sit for about 12 hours. Store and enjoy year round!
Diced tomatoes are also very easy. Here’s the recipe:
Diced tomatoes (I used Romas)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
Fill pint-sized jars with tomatoes, then add salt and lemon juice. You need to pack them tightly and make sure you go to the bottom of the upper rim so they are full but not overfull.
Boil your jars before filling. Add filled jars to the canner, making sure there are a couple of inches of water above the tops of the jars. Boil them on a low boil for 45 minutes. Remove, and let sit for about 12 hours. Store and enjoy year round!

RECIPE: Spaghetti with Quick Meat Sauce

Spaghetti with Quick Meat Sauce

This is a quick, healthy dinner the whole family will enjoy. (adapted from Eating Well)
Total Time 30 mins
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 people
Calories 389 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb whole wheat or gluten free spaghetti
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic and Italian seasoning; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. add beef and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Increase heat to high. Stir in tomatoes and cook until thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in parsley and salt.
  • Serve the sauce over the pasta, sprinkled with cheese.

Notes

Protein: 27.2g; Carbs: 53.8; Fats: 9g
Keyword dinner, high protein, pasta, quick

RECIPE: Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon

 

Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon

This is a yummy, quick meal that is perfect for lunch meal prep.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course dinner, lunch
Servings 4 people
Calories 315 kcal

Equipment

  • 4 12" x 12" aluminum foil sheets
  • Grill

Ingredients
  

  • 4 6 ounce skin-on salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 thin slices lemon
  • 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

Instructions
 

  • Preheat grill to 450 degrees F. Place the four foil squares in a single layer on a work surface and coat with cooking spray.
  • Place 1 salmon fillet, skin-side down, in the center of each foil square.
  • Top each fillet with 1 1/2 tsp of butter, 1/4 tsp lemon pepper, 1/8 tsp salt, 2 lemon slices and 1 parsley sprig
  • Crimp the sides of each foil packet together to tightly seal.
  • Place packets on the grill, cover and grill until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 8 to 10 minutes.

Notes

Protein: 34g; Carbs: 7.1g; Fats: 16.8g
Keyword fish, gluten free, grill, meal prep, salmon

RECIPE: Eggplant Parmesan

 

Eggplant Parmesan

My famous eggplant parmesan is perfect for company.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 servings
Calories 668 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 13"x 9" baking dish
  • 1 frying pan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 to 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup oil for frying
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 40 oz marinara sauce
  • Italian herbs assorted

Instructions
 

  • Peel and slice eggplant into thin slices.
  • Coat with egg/milk mixture and dip into breadcrumbs to coat both sides.
  • Fry them in cooking oil, making sure they are nearly submerged in oil. You may need to add oil along the way. Once they are fried golden brown, move them to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
  • Using a rectangular backing dish (I like the glass Pyrex), line the bottom with sauce and put a layer of eggplant on the sauce.
  • Top with sauce and then mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of eggplant, sauce and cheese until you run out of eggplant. The last layer should be cheese.
  • Sprinkle Italian herbs over the top (dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste).
  • Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Enjoy with a side of pasta and sauce!

Notes

Protein: 27g; Carbs: 34; Fats: 52g
 
Keyword dinner, eggplant, italian, parmesan

RECIPE: Faux “Soft Serve”

Faux "Soft Serve"

Try this delicious high protein riff on soft serve ice cream.
Prep Time 2 mins
Course Snack
Servings 1
Calories 208 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 container Greek yogurt vanilla or plain
  • 1 scoop whey protein chocolate or vanilla (try 1/2 and 1/2!)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, berries or whatever topping you want

Instructions
 

  • Mix protein powder into yogurt and mix in the toppings, if desired.

Notes

Protein: 26g; Carbs: 2g; Fats: 2g
Keyword berries, chocolate chips, greek yogurt, ice cream, whey protein

Why Everyone Needs A Coach…Even Coaches!

I was reminded this past week of the benefit of having a coach. It’s easy to think we can do things on our own and it’s true that you can find a lot online! But, there is nothing quite like someone who can get to know you and push you and hold you accountable. We all need that someone in our lives even if only periodically.

I recently signed on to online personal training with Bret Contreras. Known as the “glute guy,” I have read all his books and followed his Booty by Bret program, but I was curious to know how his custom training would differ. I also like to see how other online trainers approach their business. Bret has been doing it for a long time and I respect him as a leader in the personal training industry so, of course, I want to learn from the best!

In my first month of training, he programmed weighted chin-ups. I have literally never done a weighted chin-up. I don’t own a weight belt and can barely do more than 5 or 6 chin-ups with just my body weight. I approached it dubiously, thinking there was no way I could do this with weights! I creatively added ankle weights and took a deep breath. And, you know what? I did it! In all I lifted 102 pounds (my body weight plus 6 pounds on my ankles). I was supposed to do 3 sets of 3 and I did it! I never would have tried that on my own. It took a coach to even put the idea in my head that I could.

Coaches not only see our potential, they encourage us to see it in ourselves and that’s motivating. What’s more, they hold us accountable, and let’s face it, we can all use a little accountability! Personal trainers and nutrition coaches are a great investment in your health. It may seem like an extra expense you don’t need but I encourage everyone to hire a coach at least once in their lives. It’s so worth it. I leave you with my record setting chin-up…

RECIPE: Chia Pudding

 

Chia Pudding

Easy, make-ahead breakfast for busy people on the go.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Breakfast
Servings 1
Calories 325 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 glass jar Ball canning jars for jam work nicely!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 scoop whey protein (vanilla or chocolate work best)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp cacao nibs
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 - 1 1/2 c milk of choice I use vanilla almond milk

Instructions
 

  • Mix all dry ingredients in the jar.
  • Add one to one and a half cups milk of choice and mix well. It will start to thicken.
  • Cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.

Notes

Protein - 31g; Carbs - 15g; Fats - 15g
Keyword breakfast, high protein, meal prep, no cook, whey protein