One of the most common questions people ask when discussing my dietary preferences is: But how do you get enough protein!?
Inside, I am chuckling. How funny, that people are so concerned with my nutritional welfare, when they have no idea what the body actually requires. All you meat eaters, do you know how much protein your body needs, and how much you are actually ingesting? Probably not.
The truth is, I spent a considerable amount of time and effort tracking my nutrition back in 2010, including blood tests. When I eat properly, I am very well off. My problem has more to do with my disinterest in eating, than with what I am eating.
For instance, today I ate extremely poorly. Breakfast: 20 oz Turtle Mocha from Caribou Coffee. Lunch: Some handfuls of Tostito’s baked chips, some handfuls of Dorito’s Cool-Ranch chips, plus a bowl of whole raw strawberries (all foraged from work). Dinner: bowl of yogurt topped with granola. All in all, pretty terrible. If I was not trying to make a point, I would be ashamed in telling anyone that.
So for the first time in ages, I entered my daily intake into my FitDay account, and here is the breakdown:
Staying focused on protein: I managed to intake ~40.1g of protein on one of my worst eating days.
So, how much protein do I need?
Here is a simple chart from Health.com that helps women determine their protein needs based on their activity level and weight.
According to this chart, I need between 46 (sedentary) and 69 (active) grams a day. So far, I have met ~87% of that daily need for a sedentary day, and ~58% for an active day. So let’s say a mean of ~73% of my need for today. I consider that sufficient for not even trying.
[According to a calculator from the University of Maryland Medical System, I need about 53 g of fat and 244 g of carbs per day, so I am a bit over today. See how heavy commercial products like coffee drinks are in a nutrition budget?]
Now here is the breakdown from a time when I had a smoothie for breakfast, then a steak and green beans for dinner. Let’s pretend this is a the daily intake for a normal, health-conscious person.
Just by eating a grilled steak for one of my meals, I got ~234% (sedentary) to 156% (active) of my daily protein needs.
Which brings me to my point, when I have a normal appetite and eat accordingly, I am getting just enough protein. I appreciate your concern, but do not worry about me. Instead, consider your own dietary needs. Learn the daily recommended intakes for your age, weight, and lifestyle. Then track what you are consuming and compare. You may be surprised by the results.
As you can see, my average nutritional intake is about where it should be.
Now I’ve made myself want to eat some real food for the day. =]