Today is the day. It’s the day I looked at the laptop, and my fingers twitched to be back on the blog. The recipes and ideas have piled up and I have missed sharing them all with you. I’m making the comeback (Terminator style), with a topic that often gets me into a lot of trouble – high protein diets.
I’m not a big fan of
high protein diets – I will, though, confess that some people are encouraged once they see the results of a high protein diet (and sadly, it will give quick results) which, in turn, can help them ease into a healthier lifestyle. Thats why I’m dedicating today’s post to those protein lovers, so that they can make the best of their lifestyle, in the healthiest way possible
this is probably one of the most common “mistakes” that many bodybuilders and protein lovers make. For them, more protein intake automatically means more meat or chicken – not only is this not true, it’s also unnecessarily expensive. The thing about more meat, is that it’s almost always also (tongue twister!) more fat and, honestly, will make your diet boring and bland – eventually you risk bingeing or overeating just to compensate for the lack of variety. Next time you find yourself eating chicken or meat for the third meal in a row, try any of these alternatives for low fat protein options:
- eggs (great and filling breakfast, and an excellent low carb base for healthy “pancakes” with 6g per egg)
- low-mercury fish such as salmon (plus points for the added omega 3 fatty acids)
- beans (cheap, filling, versatile and provides about 7.5g protein per ½ cup – add it to salads, use it as a dip, or even as a full blown meal)
- quinoa (albeit this is a new trend, it remains a good low fat protein option which provides about 4g protein per ½ cup, cooked)
- walnuts (4g protein per 1/4 cup and the plus of omega 3 fatty acids)
- pumpkin seeds (these can provide 9g protein per 1/4 cup – just sprinkle some on your salad for added protein)
- edamame (this is an excellent plant based protein and fiber option, as it can provide 29g protein per cup)
- yoghurt (14g/cup)
Know your portions
Eating is highly habitual – meaning it can be trained and changed. If you grew up in a household that only cooked whole wheat rice (like I did), you often find white rice to be bland in comparison – and if you didn’t, these taste buds can be trained to like new things. Just the same way, your stomach can be trained to consume more or less, depending on your eating habits. I say this a lot, but I probably can’t emphasize it enough, be conscious of what you are eating – just because you like to eat out of a big plate, it doesn’t mean that plate has to be completely filled up. Be mindful of the food you are consuming, maybe ask yourself if you can figure out the different flavors you’re tasting, or share a meal and converse with someone as you eat. I understand that this is difficult to do for every meal, especially with our fast-paced lifestyle these days – but start somewhere, with one meal once a week and be conscious of how you feel after. Did you have to unbuckle that first button after your mindful meal? case closed.
Hydrate hydrate hydrate
high protein also means high amounts of waste products – these are eliminated by the kidneys, but in order for the kidneys to function efficiently, they need plenty of water, otherwise we could be overstressing our kidneys. Therefore make sure to drink plentifully throughout the day – if you don’t like regular water, get creative! add slices and combos of your favorite fruits and spices for natural homemade flavoured water.
the general recommendations for fruits is about 2-3 servings per day – this does not necessarily mean 2 or 3 whole fruits, for example, a banana is usually considered 2 servings. many high protein diets limit or completely eliminate fruits from their list, which I think is COMPLETELY unnecessary and unrealistic. Seriously, when have you ever heard of someone getting obese for eating fruits or vegetables? More importantly, if you are a bodybuilder, certain fruits, such as bananas can be a great aid to muscle recovery. So, next time your diet includes eliminating fruits and cutting down on vegetables – smile – grab some yoghurt, add some chopped walnuts, strawberry slices and watch the scale. Oh, you didn’t automatically gain a few pounds? I’m shocked.
I can definitely say that whole grains are also not the enemy, but I know I would be pushing my luck trying to convince protein lovers with this, so I’m picking my battles and sticking to just these tips. Make sure to take them into consideration in your next protein plan to minimize the risks of high protein diets*.
*It’s also generally NOT recommended to stay on such diets for a long time.