“Hey Coach, how do I get enough protein?” is one of the most common questions we get. The struggle to get enough protein in without also over-doing the calories is real, and it’s also more difficult for women because women are smaller and don’t have as much wiggle room when it comes to calories.
The myth of 🥩 steak for protein.
For example steak is thought of as a good source of protein, and while steak is full of life affirming deliciousness, steak (let’s use ribeye) is mostly fat with some protein. A 3.5oz rib-eye has 290 calories, and only 84 of those calories are from protein, while the other 206 – the other 71% – are from fat.
Let’s get that protein.
Here are 20 ways to get at least 20 grams of protein with less than 200 calories. Also, please note how many of these options are vegetarian.
1. 2 x Bocca burgers: easy, tasty and very little clean up. They’re pretty good in the microwave. 2 burgers has 200 calories and 26 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fiber. Hard to beat that, especially if you are a vegetarian.
2. 4 ounces of shrimp: there aren’t many other foods that can give you 24 grams of protein for 112 calories and that are also pretty tasty. They thaw fast and cook fast too.
3. 🥛 Fairlife Skim Milk: this is about their ultra-filtered skim milk. 2 cups has only 160 calories and 26 grams of protein. The downside is that it is a thin liquid, so it’s not really going to be terribly filling for very long on it’s own. However, you can use it to add extra protein to foods you’d normally add milk to, or as the liquid for a smoothie.
4. 6 ounces of light tofu: regular tofus is a lot higher in calories than most people expect it to be because soy beans are one of the highest fat beans, which is why we can extract so much soybean oil from soybeans. 6 ounces of light tofu packs 21 grams of protein for just 120 calories.
5. 1 cup of egg whites: 1 cup has 26 grams of protein for just 125 calories. I strongly prefer “egg beater” type egg whites because we eat with our eyes first, and if the whites look white they just don’t taste the same, even though they would if I was blindfolded.
6. 🥜 5 tablespoons of Powdered peanut butter: not peanut butter, but powdered peanut butter (my favorite brand is PB Fit). 5 tablespoons has 20 grams of protein and 175 calories and 7-8 grams of fiber. I don’t know that I would actually want 5 tablespoons at once, but I do LOVE it for protein shakes or smoothies. Trying to get the flavor of peanut butter into a smoothie with actual peanut butter means I might as well just go eat some cookies because for that many calories I am going to enjoy myself…
7. 1.25 cups Quorn meatless pieces: Quorn is pronounced like corn, but is made of mushroom protein. It is the name brand of a vegetarian protein product that is pretty good. Biggest challenge is not letting it dry out, which means however you cook it (microwave, toaster oven, actual oven, etc.) make sure you cover it. 1.25 cups of the meatless pieces has 160 calories and 20 grams of protein. Beware of the breaded Quorn products… they’re yummy for sure, but just because it is vegetarian doesn’t mean it is low calorie. Breaded and fried food (meat or no meat) has a lot of calories.
ounces 95% Lean ground beef: 4 ounces has 24 grams of protein for just 150 calories! 90% lean beef does not have 5% more fat than 95% lean it has 100% more fat and 1/3 more total calories… in other words you can not get 20 grams of protein for under 200 calories with 90% lean. When they talk about % lean they’re talking about weight not calories. The best beef for hamburgers has 20%, and lean hamburgers have the mouth feel of cardboard. Best compromise is probably to have yummy burgers infrequently, and make crockpot (or one pot) dishes with lean beef
(if it is cooked in liquid it doesn’t dry out like lean beef on a
grill) and/or use Boca Burgers for burgers if you want a burger-ish meal
#9-13: The “you already know about these things” section:
· 1 cup of fat free Greek yogurt: 24 grams of protein for just 120 calories.
· 4 ounces Chicken breast: 35 grams of protein for just 186 calories.
· 4 ounces Turkey breast: 34 grams of protein for just 152 calories.
· 4 ounces White fish (such as tilapia): 29 grams of protein for just 145 calories.
· Protein powder: it depends on the brand, so look at the label, and while you are at it make sure that the protein powder you are using is not mislabeled.
The Most Important List
The most important items to note are the items we left off this list. A lot of success in anything is about what you don’t do.
Our grandma’s may have annoyed us with their endless list of “don’t dot that’s”, but they were far wiser than us. For example, if you workout and eat well in an effort to be healthy and extend your life, but you drive without a seatbelt and/or you text and drive, who are you kidding?
NOT Good Sources List
14. Protein bars: protein bars are very high in calories and are usually mislabeled in term of protein content. I would avoid them, and there are none we endorse for the calorie conscious. The ones from dotfit will actually have the amount of protein listed on the label, however it’s a lot of calories (as it is for all bars).
15. Eggs: 1 egg has 80 calories in it and only 7 grams of protein. To get 21 grams of protein requires 240 calories + whatever calories there are from what you use to cook them. Egg whites give you much more protein per calorie. You can add in one egg to your whites for a compromise.
16. Steak: see above. Yummy and amazing, and also they are mostly fat and super high calorie.
17. Nuts: same as steak, nuts are not a good source of protein, but rather they are mostly just fat. 80-85% fat, and only 10-15% protein. Take cashews for example: to get 20 grams of protein would require 630 calories, which, for many women is nearly half their total calorie budget when trying to lose weight.
18. Hummus: hummus is primarily fat (more than half the calories are fat) because of the tahini that makes it so creamy and yummy. To get 20 grams of protein from hummus would require about 500 calories.
19. Quinoa: quinoa is primarily carbohydrate not protein. To get over 20 grams of protein from quinoa would requires about 670 calories… which is more than even cashews.
20. Peanut butter: peanut butter, almond butter and all nut butters are primarily fat. The average female client would need to consume 2,400 to 2,800 calories of nut butter to reach her daily calorie goals… this leaves no room for even carrots to put it on.