Pondering Protein Portions

Published on: 06/01/2022
Half dozen brown eggs on white picnic table
Protein consumption is higher in the U.S. and Canada than in any other region in the world. And it easily wins as the sexiest macronutrient on TikTok. I am not sure when it comes to protein, why do you need to wear the least amount of clothes possible to explain how to create a healthy protein dish 👙 🙃? I do not see carbs and fat getting such sexy vibes, so what is it about protein? Protein may be the most popular yet most controversial of all macronutrients. It is quite confusing, and it is everywhere, so let’s try to dig through the mounds of protein.

Do you really need to consume such an abundance of protein? An abundance, no, but you may need to consume more protein than you are consuming today. It is always about balance — each meal or plate being about 50% non-starchy veggies, 25% whole grains, and 25% protein. Our non-starchy veggies provide us with vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. They fill us up at the moment. Whole grains/carbs refuel our muscles and our minds. Proteins repair our muscles. Maintaining your muscle is very important because if it declines, then you’re losing metabolic tissue. When you start to lose your metabolic tissue, you start to accumulate fat, and that is what we are trying to avoid. Yet too much protein does not build more muscle. Adequate protein throughout the day is necessary, but strength training is what leads to muscle growth. You can’t build muscle without the exercise to go with it. Protein overload is not what we need. Protein pacing helps to repair our muscles and keep our appetites in check to avoid those droopy moods😞.

Have you ever wondered why some days you may crave sweets more than other days? There are a variety of reasons but one of the most common reasons is you did not eat enough protein at your most recent meal or two. We crave sweets when we are overly hungry. We sometimes become overwhelmed with hunger, a detriment to both our bodies and our minds. Satiating foods (that you enjoy) prevent hunger and, therefore, prevent you from craving sweets. Protein pacing, along with your balanced meals, will help keep your hunger level and mood stable throughout the day😃.

So how much is enough? The current RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (body weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = body weight in kilograms), which translates on average to around 45 to 60 grams per day (approximately 120–165 pounds). The tricky part of the RDA is the minimum amount to not see deficiencies. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is the ideal amount for you to healthfully repair your muscles each day. So how much is enough? Once you reach ages 40–50, sarcopenia, or losing muscle mass as you age, begins to set in. Most of the data today suggests between 1.2 and 1.6 grams per kg, which is about twice the RDA or closer to 76 to 105 grams and then some. So what does that mean to you? 20–30 grams per meal; 10–20 grams per snack. Going over and above is a waste of calories, and who wants to waste those?!

​Eating throughout the day is key to keeping the energy balance of your body and mind. Three meals a day plus 1 to 2 snacks when hungry is the recipe for long-term success. Of course, our meals and snacks need to be balanced — macronutrients need to be personalized; only you know what works and does not work for you. Let’s munch on some ways to prevent excessive hunger and muscle breakdown and create days filled with fuel and satisfaction😋.
SMASHED BANANA PANCAKES
Our days start with breakfast, which is often a place we do not consume enough protein. These delicious pancakes provide 20 grams of protein per serving, plus fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. The banana and berries provide plenty of sweetness, along with some optional additions when desired.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium banana, mashed with a fork
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons powdered peanut butter (ie. PB2 brand)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups fresh berries
Options: 1–2 teaspoons mini chocolate chips, 1–2 tablespoons honey or low sugar maple syrup

​PREPARATION

Spray nonstick griddle pan and place over medium heat for 2–3 minutes. While preheating, whisk together mashed banana, eggs, egg whites, oats, cinnamon, powdered peanut butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop about 3 pancakes onto the griddle pan and heat for about 1–2 minutes. Flip and heat for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat and repeat the second batch. Top with fresh berries and any optional desires. Makes 2 servings, 3 pancakes per serving. Enjoy!
TANGY GRILLED SALMON
This marinade could be used for any fish, chicken or lean meat, but I am partial to salmon. It is hard to overcook salmon filets, so a simple favorite to throw on the grill. 4–6 ounces of salmon provide approximately 24–36 grams of protein (about 6 grams per ounce). Make extra when preparing for dinner, to easily throw on top of a salad and/or leftover veggies for a satisfying lunch the next day.

INGREDIENTS

4 (4–6 ounces each) salmon fillets
2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
4–5 garlic cloves, crushed
Freshly ground pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
Optional: fresh parsley for garnish

PREPARATION

Whisk together soy sauce, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and pepper in a small bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons and set aside. Place salmon, skin side down, on a platter. Pour the rest of the marinade on top. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes or for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

​Spray clean grill grates with nonstick spray. Preheat grill over medium-high heat to about 400 degrees F. Place salmon on grill skin side down and cook about 4 minutes, then carefully flip and continue to cook another 4 minutes or to desired doneness. Place salmon on a clean serving platter and brush the remaining 2 Tbsp marinade mixture over the salmon. Garnish with parsley if desired.

GRILLED SHRIMP WITH ROSEMARY
Rosemary has such a powerful, distinctive flavor, that when you use it, you need to know what flavor you are committing to for your meal. The rosemary provides the shrimp with a strong herby flavor and a true summertime flair. A healthy 6-ounce serving of shrimp is 45 grams of lean protein. Throw some zucchini, eggplant, peppers, or mushrooms on the grill, to balance your plate with fresh veggies and your favorite whole grain.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Nonstick cooking spray

PREPARATION

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together white wine through pepper. Add the shrimp and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes.

​Spray grill with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat on medium. Remove shrimp from the marinade and either thread on skewers or use a grate on the grill that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Grill shrimp for approximately 3 minutes per side. Makes approximately 4 servings.
Here are some healthy (6–20 grams per serving) proteins to add to your snacks or meals. Plant proteins are awesome options:

-Greek yogurt (brands include but are not limited to Oikos, Fage, Chobani)
-1–2 hard-boiled eggs
-2 tablespoons peanut butter or powdered peanut butter
-1 cup edamame
-1/4 cup hummus
-1–4 ounces lean, low sodium deli meat
-1/2–1 cup beans (ie. black beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas)
-1–4 ounces of meat substitutes (ie. tofu, seitan, tempeh)
-1–4 ounces of low-fat cheese
-1–2 scoops of protein powder (add to your smoothie or oatmeal)

My superpower is to be me, and only me…It’s a badass thing to be vulnerable.

~ Viola Davis, actress, recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Tony Awards
For comments, thoughts, requests, or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: amy@rebelliousrd.com or visit me at rebelliousrd.com.

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With a longstanding dedication to healthy cooking and eating, I promote nutrition with a rebellious twist: the belief that perfection is not required for success on your wellness journey. 

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