Posted by: xgym777 | 11/10/2009

What’s the Big Deal About Protein Anyway?

protein foodsPJ here again, blogging for my buddy Leisa while she’s gone. This post is about putting protein in more than one place on your 15 favs list. You don’t have to be a carnivore like me either. You can do it as a vegetarian too (although it is more of a challenge), and even a vegan if you really know how (see for the expert on that – but know that we are apples and oranges on the protein issue, because he is  talking about minimal needs, not metabolism issues. Now I’m just rambling on because I’ve never put this many words inside of parentheses before, and it’s cracking me up because I know it breaks some rules of good writing and it will bug the heck out of Leisa. Multiple sentences inside the same parentheses is also a no-no, so that’s why I’m still going now. How about a comma in the wrong, place? Ha ha Leisa! This ought to learn you to give me full author privileges on your blog while you are out of town!). OK – that was fun, now back on track we go…

X Gym members sometimes wonder if I will ever shut up about the protein issue. I’m telling them constantly to eat it all day, every day, and especially in the morning and after a workout. I tell them to consume at least 100 grams per day, and for some, up to 250 grams.

I believe everyone should eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day, and to most, that seems like a lot. To some, it seems utterly ridiculous and simply unattainable, but it’s really not. It’s a learned habit that gets easier with time.

So why do I obsess over it to such a degree? Why do I eat 300-500 grams of it per day myself? My body can only absorb about 200 grams of that anyway, so aren’t I “wasting” the rest? These are questions I get asked all the time, so here are my answers.

Protein is a high metabolic food. It makes your metabolism crank up and burn off fat. Even if you had a digestive issue that prevented you from absorbing any protein, it would still affect your metabolism in a way that would make you leaner. Have you seen those thermogenic diet pill advertisements promising rapid weight loss? They don’t actually work, but protein does deliver on those promises. It’s a real thermogenic diet calorie, and it will make you leaner – guaranteed.

The protein I eat beyond the amount I can absorb is still contributing to my crazy-high metabolism. I only workout less than an hour per week, so my metabolism doesn’t get a huge boost from exercise. My job is sedentary (mostly sitting in front of a computer), so I’m not helping my metabolism there either. It’s the type of calories I eat that have the most significant effect.

At this moment, between typing paragraphs, I am cooking 5 lbs. of grass-fed ground beef with Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach and broccoli. That will last me 2 days max. I might even eat it all today if I’m hungry enough. That food will keep my metabolism humming along at such a level, I’ll have to go sleeveless most of the day in my 69 degree gym so I don’t get sweaty sitting on front of the computer!

Because I eat this way, my body fat is usually about 7%. When a stair climb race is coming up, I eat even more protein to get leaner still. I like to be around 4% body fat when I race, because that takes off about 5 pounds of fat that I won’t have to carry up the stairs. To get leaner, I eat more. My total daily calorie level increases, but my body fat goes down.

This wouldn’t make sense to most dietitians or doctors, but that’s because they are outdated and need to learn the new science of calories and metabolism. This science isn’t actually new however. It’s just being rediscovered since we lost touch.  10,000 years ago, all humans ate like I do, but since ovens and baked goods were invented with the many forms of starch and sugar, things have changed and we lost touch. Now we are the fattest we have ever been, and for the first time in the history of our planet, fat people outnumber hungry people.

“Johnny six pack” (the typical American), eats about 15% protein, 55% carbs and 30% fat by calories. Mine is 55% protein, 15% carbs and 30% fat. The total calories I eat each day are the same as Jonny six pack, but I’ve merely swapped his numbers on carbs and protein.

Johnny’s six pack is in his fridge. Mine is under my shirt. ‘Nuf said?



  1. […] Learn why I care about protein. […]

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