3 Reasons To Add Protein In Every Meal

Mom always used to say, “eat your veggies”

Back in the day, you could eat a big ole plate of pasta, and as long as you ate your veggies, mom called it good.

What mom didn’t know was that a carb-filled protein-deficient meal likely left you feeling hungry an hour later, begging for a bedtime snack.     

Yes, we need our veggies, but we need protein too!

3 Reasons to Prioritize Protein at Every Meal:

Protein increases fullness and reduces hunger.

Out of the three macronutrients— protein, fats, and carbohydrates, studies show that protein helps you feel full. Think about it this way, most of us could down 5 cider mill donuts without batting an eyelash, replace the 5 donuts with chicken breasts, and it’s a whole new ball game. After the second chicken breast, your hunger hormone ghrelin is no longer sending your brain signals to eat. 

Protein increases muscle mass and strength.

Protein is the building block of muscle. Eating adequate protein helps you maintain your muscle mass. Add some resistance training to the equation and that same protein promotes muscle growth. Remember, 5 pounds of muscle on your body looks very different than 5 pounds of fat. As we enter into our 50s, muscle mass naturally declines, as much as 3% per year. Don’t fret ladies, just incorporate protein at every meal and perform some simple bodyweight resistance exercises like these.

Eating protein boosts your metabolism and increases fat burning.

Why not let your metabolism do the work for you? 

There are hundreds of systems and processes going on inside our bodies all day. God knew what he was doing when he created Adam. Every time you eat, your body uses calories to digest, absorb, and metabolize the nutrients in your food; this is called the thermal effect of food (TEF).

Guess what? Protein has a much higher thermic effect than fats and carbohydrates.

When you eat protein, between 25-35 % of the calories in the protein are used to digest, absorb and metabolize that protein.

Carbs only use  6-8 % of their calories, and fats use even less at 2-3%.

In my RESTORE Program, we talk a lot about bringing balance to our metabolism. Simply put, protein has a metabolic advantage and can help us keep our metabolism flexible and balanced.

How much protein do I need?

Don’t overcomplicate your protein intake.

Protein needs vary depending on age, lifestyle, personal preferences, and many other factors. Think about it this way. If every time you build a meal, you shoot to fill your plate with 25-30% protein, 50% veggies, and 20-25% healthy fats and carbohydrates combined, you will be well on your way to eating a protein-rich diet.

Start from where you are when increasing your protein intake.

If you are not used to incorporating protein, start by adding a small amount to every meal. Gradually increase the amount at a pace that works best for you. I encourage my RESTORE health coaching clients to add protein in the form of a few more bites of chicken, lean beef, fish, eggs, or protein-rich veggies at every meal.

Ultimately I see the best results in clients that work their way towards 100 grams or more of protein each day.

Here’s a list of my personal top favorite protein sources.

Pumpkin seeds ¼ cup 11g

Lupini beans 1 cup 26g

Chickpeas 1 cup 15g

Asparagus 1 cup 3g

Broccoli 1 cup 3g

Organic chicken breast 4 oz. 32g

Salmon 4 oz. 24g

Organic eggs 1 LG. 7g

Almonds ¼ cup 7g

Quinoa 1 cup 24g

Oats 1 cup 12g

Organic Plant-based protein powder in a smoothie 1 scoop 20g

Plant-based collagen protein power in a smoothies 1 scoop 15g

Moral of the Story:

Prioritizing protein at every meal helps curb hunger and cravings, increases muscle mass and strength, and boosts your metabolism.

It can be as simple as adding a few bites to every meal.

Learn more about how to RESTORE your health and your metabolism with whole food nutrition, movement, rest, self-care, and stress relief practices in my newsletter right here.

Health & Blessings,

Ann