Do You Really Need to Eat More Protein?

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

How much protein should you eat?

As you probably already know, protein and how much of it you should be eating is a hot topic in the health and fitness world right now. (I mean it always has been and always will be, but right now, it really seems to be a very buzzworthy point of interest.)

Everyone loves to tout the weight loss benefits of protein and everyone loves to tell us that we need to be eating more of it—to stay full and satiated so that we won’t overeat and to build muscle so that our metabolism will stay boosted!

Not that these effects aren’t true, protein does possess these benefits, but how much protein do you actually need to reap them? Do you REALLY need to eat MORE of it?

Probably not.

(via giphy.com)

I’m bringing this up now because, just after working on a story, where Dr. Rachele Pojednic, a researcher at Harvard with a Ph.D. in nutrition, told me that most Americans (approximately 97 percent) already eat enough protein, I got a perfectly timed email from a health and wellness brand, urgently reminding readers that they’re “definitely not getting enough protein” with a link (and a sneaky one at that) to a “story” about why “you really need to add more protein to your diet.”

how-much-protein

I won’t say who this email came from, because I actually particularly like this brand and their content, but I will say that I was disappointed to find that upon clicking the link to the “story” I was brought to one of their sponsors’ websites.

Can you guess what that sponsor was trying to sell me? Just try to take a stab at it.

A wild shot in the dark.

Did you say protein supplements? OMG, how did you know?!


(via giphy.com)

So, really in addition to the fact that you probably don’t need to eat more protein (although you may benefit from switching up where you get it from and for some people supplements will fit into the equation — but more on that soon), what I also wanted to bring to your attention is the sneaky and untruthful marketing strategies that are rampant within the health and fitness industry.

Just because you get an email or see a billboard saying you NEED to do X or that X is the new miracle answer to all of your health/fitness problems, does not mean it’s true!

Make sure you always look at the research first before you invest in anything or try a new type of strategy. That’s where the real answers lie.

Now that we’ve got that covered, back to the topic of protein.

How much protein should you eat?
OK people, for our purposes right now we’re talking about the recommended amount for good general health. If you’re aiming for ~HuGe GaInZ~ then you may need a little more than what these guidelines suggest. But we’re not here to talk about ~HuGe GaInZ~, so if that’s what you’re looking for you’re probably better off consulting BodyBuilding.com… or this article I wrote (with help from the always reliable Marc Perry of BuiltLean.com) about how much protein you should eat daily in order to build muscle.


(via giphy.com)

But now, back to the main topic…

If you eat a fairly varied diet, even of the vegetarian variety, it’s likely that you’re already getting enough protein. But just for reference, according  to Dr. Pojednic, research shows that we should aim for 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day (that’s about .36 to .54 grams of protein per pound of body weight). So for example, if you weigh 56 kilograms, you should eat between 45 and 68 grams of protein per day (approximately).

You can use either of the following equations to calculate your own needs based on your body weight:

  • [weight in kilograms] X [figure between 0.8 and 1.2]
  • [weight in pounds] X [figure between 0.36 and 0.54]

If you work out often and/or your workouts are intense, it’s a good idea to lean towards the higher end of the scale (and to make sure that you’re getting protein in some form directly after your workouts) to help aid your muscles with recovery. For me, this is where a protein powder supplement comes in. After strength workouts or long running workouts I typically follow up with a protein smoothie directly after to help aid muscle recovery.

Read more about my training nutrition here.

What are the best sources of protein?
Dr. Pojednic told me that not all protein is created equal. She referred to a recent study in the American Journal of Nutrition that found that a diet where protein was swapped in place of carbohydrates only resulted in weight loss for 30 percent of the people involved in the study.

In the study, protein sources like meat, chicken with skin and cheese actually led to weight gain, but protein sources like milk, legumes, peanuts and eggs led to no weight change, and the only sources of protein that led to weight loss were yogurt, peanut butter,  walnuts (and several other types of nuts), chicken without skin, low-fat cheese and seafood.

This doesn’t mean you should absolutely never eat cheese or delicious fried chicken ever again (that would just be ridiculous). It just means that we should all be paying more attention to the quality of the foods we eat and making an effort to get our nutrients from the highest-quality sources as often as possible.


(via giphy.com)

Additionally, don’t dismiss the power of plant protein. Dr. Pojednic said research has shown that high-protein vegetarian diets can provide the same feeling of satiation that’s more commonly associated with high-protein animal products like chicken and fish (nothing against those foods, because they’re great in their own ways).

The main message here: your protein can and does come from a variety of sources, and the more variety the better, because the more varied your diet is, the more likely you are to be meeting all of your nutrient needs. Remember, you don’t need to eat tons of chicken, fish and whey protein shakes every day to meet your protein needs. If, for the most part, you’re eating mostly whole foods at every meal, you’re likely meeting your protein needs without even having to think about it.

Do you guys have any questions or thoughts about protein? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Otherwise, if you’re interested, you can read the rest of my interview with Dr. Pojednic here: The Perks of Protein: Does This Nutrient Really Have the Power to Help You Lose Weight?

Get in Shape for Summer (and Life): Hungry Runner Style

yoga-on-beach

I have a confession to make.

So you know how I talk a lot about body image and how weight loss shouldn’t be the sole focus of our fitness mission?

Constantly having that message floating around in my brain and constantly writing about it started to make me feel like it would never be OK for weight loss to be a part of my own goals again.

If I’m telling you not to worry about losing weight, then what business do I have trying to lose weight?

But if I’m being honest, and I always will be here, weight loss—or actually, I should say fat loss—is absolutely a part of my goal right now.

I don’t want to say weight loss because I don’t own a scale and don’t plan on weighing myself (mostly because I quite literally can’t) through this process. However, over the course of the past few months, while my workout routine has been regular and on point, my eating habits haven’t, and I’m noticing it in the form of an extra bit of “pudge,” if you will, in my tummy—which by the way, like many women, is basically my body’s go-to spot for storing fat. Thank you, genetics.

So, in essence, my goal is to reduce my waistline. Or, another way to put it, make my pants fit a little bit less tight.

Another confession: even though losing fat (or weight, whatever you want to call it) was a goal of mine when I started this blog (and was actually part of the reason it came to life in the first place), I kind of hate talking about this subject now.

I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that pretty much everyone I know IRL reads Hungry Runner now. Where as, when I first started I was pretty much an anonymous contributor on Tumblr. Oh how the times have changed!

Anyway, those changes are for the better, so I’m going to work on getting over my hesitations about talking about weight loss and just embrace the fact that yes, I am currently a poster child for one of my least favorite fitness headlines: get in shape for summer.

ultimate-guide-to-getting-beach-body
(image via eatingbirdfood.com)

Because yes, right now, one of my biggest sources of motivation is the fact that beach and bikini season is approaching quickly. (I’m only human, OK?)

That said, I’m also keeping in mind that I feel my best—confident, empowered, motivated, energized, happy—when I work hard (both in the gym and on my eating habits) to stay in tip-top shape.

What I realized, though: no, weight loss and your outward appearance shouldn’t be your sole motivator when it comes to exercising and eating well, because that will only get you so far. You need something bigger, deeper and more powerful to keep you going in the long-term.

Also, and I’ve talked about this in the past before, you shouldn’t put an expiration date on fitness or health. The ultimate goal is to build a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime. (OK, I kind of hate how kitschy and cliche that sounds, but IT’S THE TRUTH, so deal with it.)

But also, none of that means that you can’t use a little bit of vanity to fuel your fire.

So, with that in mind, what’s my plan of action?

Well, my mission started just after I moved into my new place in Brooklyn about three and half weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been running about  four days a week, with two-and-half to four mile runs on weekday mornings and longer five- or six-mile runs on Saturdays. On the days that I’m not running I’ve been doing bodyweight workouts (stay tuned for those in future posts) and yoga.

I’m going to continue with a similar schedule going forward, except instead of bodyweight workouts at home on non-running days, over the next four weeks I’ll be attending a handful of different group exercise studio classes thanks to the folks at FitReserve who so graciously offered me a one-month membership for free.

Side note: If you live in New York City and love group exercise studio classes, FitReserve is a great way to get access to lots of different classes at a discount. The monthly membership (which gives you access to 10 classes per month) is $119, so that’s just under $12 per class. Considering most boutique studio classes are $25 and up, that’s a pretty sweet deal.

So, that’s my exercise plan of action. As far as my eating habits go, I’m not dieting or going on a diet or anything like that. I’m simply reverting back to the basics of mindful and intuitive eating and also using MyFitnessPal as a way to hold myself accountable about what I’m really eating.

Other than that, I’ve set a few guidelines for myself that will help me avoid overdoing the things that threw me off track in the first place.  For example, beer, added sugar and failing to pay attention to portion sizes—aka, no more eating peanut butter straight out of the jar 😉 Catch my drift?

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now.

And if you guys have any questions on the subject of “getting in shape for summer,” and by that I mean, getting in shape or losing some weight, please let me know in the comments!

I want to know what you want help with because that’s what my blog posts will be all about for the next few weeks… and well, always. Duh!

In the meantime, stay tuned for my bodyweight workouts, healthy breakfast ideas and some new recipes coming soon!

P.S. A funny story: As I was writing this post, Mark was sitting next to me scrolling through “30 Grilled Cheeses Sandwiches You Didn’t Know Could Possibly Exist,” featuring overly decadent recipes such as cream cheese and Nutella “grilled cheese,” mac ‘n cheese grilled cheese, bacon guacamole grilled cheese and loaded nacho grilled cheese. Not that you couldn’t enjoy something like that and still stick to your “get in shape” goals, but it’s still pretty ironic in a very hilarious way, no?

Until next time, stay hungry and happy!

xo Katie

Sugar-Free Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

These are the easiest muffins you will ever make. Plus, you can turn this recipe into a loaf of banana bread simply by dumping the whole batch of batter into a bread pan instead of muffin cups. And another double whammy, banana muffins (or bread) work great for a snack or breakfast!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to turn it into muffins simply because I don’t have a good bread pan. (Note to self: get a bread pan.) If you want to make it as bread, click here for the original ingredients, as you will need to modify it accordingly. (You have to scroll down the page to get to it.)

-Sugar-Free Whole Wheat Banana Muffins-
Makes about 12 muffins

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flower
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 & 1/2 overripe bananas, mashed

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place muffin cups in a muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and honey. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling them 3/4 of the way.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes & enjoy!