We got a terrific question over Thanksgiving that is good all year round!
Q: “What’s ‘better’ when you’re working on your overall health and fitness goals? To stay within your daily calorie limit, or to achieve your daily protein goals?”
Q to the Q: The question back is are we talking about during a holiday feast and then it’s which is more important during that time: managing your weight or maximizing your muscle?
A: For most people it’s managing your weight. It’s a slow process to gain muscle mass, so if you have lower protein intake a few days it will have less of an overall impact if you miss your daily protein goal. So short answer, watch the calories.
Additionally, one of the best strategies for keeping calories in check is to only eat once on a holiday. No, your muscles will not wither and die if they go without food for 16 or 20 hours… it actually takes 60 hours for your body to tap into them.
The second-best session is managing snacks and leftovers. If you have cookies sitting in the counter of your home, they will find their way into your tummy one by one until all of them are gone. If it’s in your house it’s in your mouth.
There are a variety of ways to manage this: make a smaller batch, discard all or some of extra tempting leftovers, wait until the actual holiday to make or buy the treat, have fewer treats on the menu. Some improvement is going to beat no improvement every time!
Back to the first question…If the question was overall, which is better, the answer is neither. You need both – to watch your calorie intake and achieve your daily protein goals. It’s like asking if walking or strength training is more important: neither. You need both. No amount of one can replace any amount of the other.
Natillie, Josef, Gregory
PS – If you’re still feeling a little bloated check out this article.