How much protein do you need to eat?

Are you eating enough protein? Well? Are you? ARE YOU?!?

Yes, you probably are. The current recommendation for women is around 46 grams of protein a day (56 grams for men). Most adult women eat over 70 grams daily, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination survey. Pregnant women need an extra 10 grams and nursing women need 20 extra, and something tells me the women in this survey weren't all pregnant and/or nursing.

But! (BUTT) I am trying to build more lean muscle mass mostly so I don't break when I'm an old lady, but also possibly for reasons of vanity. Let's be honest. Anyway, if that's the goal the recommendation is to increase protein consumption. I could go into a detailed explanation of who recommends how much, but no one here wants to read that. The general consensus seems to be that a woman my size could do well enough on 80-95 grams of protein a day.

As an omnivore who tries to eat mostly plants I haven't been anywhere near there. I started tracking my protein a few weeks ago, which is super weird for me because I've never tracked my diet in any way before. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Seems like I'm stepping onto an unhealthy road. Like, follow the yellow brick road to the magical land of Ozzzbsessed with your diet.

I'm hoping is this Mas Protein transition will become my new normal and at some point I can stop tracking. Surely my life has meaning beyond my daily lists of chicken, yogurt and cashews. I'm not tracking everything else I eat because 1. I already know I eat plenty of fresh vegetables especially dark leafy greens and 2. I've got other shit to do, you know?

Anyway, here's what I've done to eat more protein. This may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

  • Keep a working list of protein counts for various foods so I'm not constantly Googling everything. 
  • Make sure every meal includes protein -- more than 10 grams' worth, at the very least. 
  • Make sure that's high quality protein. Pasture-raised meats and egg, whole milk yogurt, low-mercury fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, all cooked with love. No processed junk. No added sugar. 
  • Know my protein heavy hitters. For example, 1/2 cup of chicken, a serving of Good Culture cottage cheese, and 1/2 cup of chick peas each has 19 grams.
  • Pay attention to portion size so counts are reasonably accurate. I'm not getting fastidious with the kitchen scale, though. Mostly I'll either use a measuring cup or I'll eyeball it. Because. This is just food, not a matter of life or death.
  • Prioritize protein-rich foods and fresh vegetables (especially leafy greens) first, and if I have room left for other foods great. If not, oh well. 

And that's pretty much it. We shall see where this little experiment takes me.


Adriana Velez