This month's challenge focuses on meeting our protein goals. You've heard us harp on eating sufficient protein enough to know how we feel about it. When it comes to your fitness goals, whether that includes packing on muscle, increasing strength, power or endurance, shedding fat or maybe even a little bit of each, protein plays an important role.
Including enough protein in your diet helps to maintain, build and repair muscle which is important for all goals. When you fall short your progress may also suffer. Of course all macronutrients play an important role, but it seems many struggle specifically with consuming enough protein. So, with that said, here's what you can expect with this month's challenge:
On your planning days you will decide what your protein sources will be for the upcoming week. Don't worry – you won't start off planning every meal in your day. We'll take it slow, starting with breakfast and work our way up from there. The great thing about planning out the week is that you'll reduce the stress of trying to figure it out as you go. Once you've established the habit of consuming protein with each meal, you will be able to wing it a bit more. Until then, we plan!
Shop & Prep
Once you have your protein sources identified, it's time to hit the store and get stocked up. When possible make things easy by prepping your protein by either cleaning/seasoning it ahead of time or even cooking it and storing in the fridge.
This is when the rubber meets the road by putting your plan into action! You'll be swapping out low protein snacks with ones that offer higher protein, progressively increasing the amount as the month goes by. Set yourself up for success by completing your MFP diary the night before.
Check in with us
This is a fun one! You'll look over your MFP chart (or Lose It! or whatever meal tracking app you use) midday to see how you're doing, and then share it with us on one of our social media sites.* Are you on track to meet your overall protein goal for that day? Are you spreading your protein throughout the day? Very often we will leave the bulk of our protein for the end of the day. No bueno! Protein is easier for most ladies to fit in, and better absorbed by the muscles in smaller amounts of 20-30g.
On this day you'll relax things a bit and see how you manage without tracking. Keep calm! Take note of different serving sizes of proteins so that, in the future, you can eyeball portions. At the end of intuitive eating days evaluate how you fared. Treat these days as a learning experience, not a pass or fail!
Once again you'll check in on one of our social sites,* but this time we want to see pics of your food! We want you to move beyond chicken (although chicken is fine, too!) and be a little bit adventurous. Protein can be found in many foods other than the obvious meat, poultry and fish. Go outside your comfort zone and look to other sources such as seeds, nuts, beans and even vegetables. Let us see how you're mixing things up, and making it work for YOUR lifestyle! The fam is all about paying it forward. Whether you're struggling to get in the protein, or you've made crazy strides with your protein goals, share with the fam. You might even inspire someone or get inspired. #em2wlproteinchallenge
Indulgence with Benefits
On this day you'll explore treats that also offer a good serving of protein. Ice cream, muffins, brownies are all on the menu! Although they offer protein they are treats so you should still enjoy them in moderation.
Remember, protein is your friend regardless of your fitness goals. It helps you to maintain or increase your muscle mass as well as provide other benefits like increased satiety and slowing the digestion of carbohydrates which helps stabilize blood sugar levels. As a general guide we recommend that 30% of your diet be from a protein source. If you're new to all of this you may want to start with just hitting 100g/day and increasing from there. You can also evaluate your body type to help you choose a starting point.
As you can imagine trying to choke down 100g or more of protein over a couple of meals would be very hard. So aim to eat some protein with each of your meals. You will make hitting your protein goal much more attainable and will improve the absorption by your muscles. Enjoy the challenge!
*Social Sites for Sharing the challenge: (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or the Forum. Be sure to tag us on your chosen network, and hashtag #em2wlproteinchallenge so that others can get ideas!