Letting your nutrition slip? No Whey!

What you need to know about protein

Protein is probably most talked about of the three macronutrients. Likely, this is because there a connection between more protein and more muscle that has been fed to us by the supplement industry. Yes, protein is absolutely essential to gaining muscle, but it doesn’t work like the geico commercial, Bro-tato chip. Lets dive deeper, Teddy Bro-selvelt.

What is Protein

Protein is one of the 3 macronutrients that make up our food (the other two being carbohydrates and fat). Protein is essential to us and we can not survive without out it. There are all different kinds of proteins, with different functions in your body. Each protein is made up of amino acids. There are 21 amino acids, and 9 of them are “Essential” meaning your body can’t produce them. You need to get them through food!


What does Protein do?

Protein is involved in nearly every cellular function in your body. Here are some examples.

  • Antibodies are proteins. They bind to virus’s and bacteria, kill them, and replicate so that the next time it invades your body, you can easily fight it off.]
  • Hormones are proteins. Human growth hormone, insulin, etc are proteins that function in signaling cells what to do.
  • Enzymes are proteins – Enzymes speed up reactions in your body. As an example, amylase, an enzyme in saliva, converts the starches you eat into glucose which you use for energy.
  • Nutrient transport, cell structure, DNA replication, and much more all are carried out by proteins.
  • Protein also helps build lean mass. When you exercise, muscle tissue gets broken down, protein builds lean mass back up in the recovery process.


How Much Protein do I need?

The amount of protein you need will depend on a few things. 

  • How active your lifestyle is
  • Whether you are looking to build lean mass, or lose fat
  • Your training regime


Sedentary individuals looking to prevent muscle deterioration need about .5 grams per lbs of bodyweight.

Individuals looking for health and longevity need between .6-8 grams per lbs of bodyweight depending on activity levels. These are people who exercise 3-4 times a weeks and have a relatively active job.

If you’re looking to build lean muscle mass and your training reflects that, you’ll need between .8-.1 grams per lb of bodyweight at minimum.

Example: 180 male looking to gain muscle mass will need between 144-180 grams of protein per day.

Lastly, if you’re in a calorie deficit aiming to lose fat, you will actually need MORE protein than if you were in a calorie surplus. Being in a calorie deficit, your muscle protein breakdown will likely be higher. You’ll need more protein in your diet to support recovery. In a calorie surplus (aiming to gain weight) the opposite is true. Youll need more calories, but those extra calories should come from carbohydrates and fats.

Protein and Fat Loss

Eating enough protein to support fat loss and muscle gain can be tough. It may feel like “a lot” of protein, but it is necessary to see the results you are looking for. If you’re someone who trains hard in the gym, and fails to see body composition results, you may be slacking off here.

Each macronutrient has what we call a “thermic effect of feeding” (TEF). This is the amount of calories needed to breakdown and digest each nutrient. Yes, you’re body actually expends energy to breakdown the food you eat. Protein has the highest TEF. 20-30% of calories consumed from eating protein are used to break it down. 5-10% for carbohydrates and about .3% for fats. SO, eating more protein will actually make you burn more calories.

With increased protein intake, you’ll probably notice you feel more full. Protein is much more satiating than carbohydrates. Think about eating an 8 oz steak or chips of the same size. What is more satisfying?

How do I get more in my diet?

Aim to eat 4 meals per day of 25-40grams of protein. Doing this all in 1 or 2 meals will feel impossible. One of these can be a post workout shake. For Most people, this will be plenty of protein to reach your goals! A post workout shake is also an easy way to get protein without much preparation.

Quality Protein Sources

  • Meat 90% or leaner
  • Fish/seafood
  • Eggs/egg whites
  • Milk/yogurt (if you can tolerate dairy)
  • Cheese with moderation – will also contain lots of fats
  • Ascent whey protein
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Edamame
  • Protein pasta’s (banza is great!)


Example day of protein intake

180lb male, looking to build muscle. Needs 180g of protein.


Breakfast: 1 Cup Greek yogurt + 3 eggs (40 grams protein)

Lunch – 6 oz Chicken breast (36 grams protein)

Post Workout Shake – ascent  (40grams protein)

Dinner – 6 oz Salmon (29 grams protein)

Snacks – Muscle up bar, cottage cheese, beef jerky (35 grams protein)


Nutrition Support

If you’re looking for extra guidance with nutrition now is the time to get on top of it! We can’t use barbells or do pull-ups, but you can still reach your body composition goals. Email andrew@yankeecrossfit.com to get started!


-Coach Andrew