Your step-by-step blueprint to getting more protein in your diet

Published about 1 month ago • 7 min read

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When I first started to get my body lean I thought it was all about seeing the number on the scale go down.

When I began, I was advised to do a DEXA scan (aka. the most accurate way to measure body fat) at 2 specific times:

  1. Before the transformation
  2. After the transformation

When the 12 weeks was done I saw my weight drop by 15 lbs, which made me excited to see what my DEXA scan was going to say.

After the scan was done I saw the look on the Doctors face, which could only be described as an abject disappointment.

I had dropped a bit of body fat but I also lost a LOT of muscle, which inevitably caused my body fat to increase.

"How could this be???", I asked in despair.

I was working out, getting stronger in the gym, and seeing my body getting leaner. What the heck??

To which the doctor simply replied, "You probably weren't eating enough protein"

She was right.

Why is protein important?

Protein is the most important macronutrient on the planet and is crucial for healthy living especially as we age.

The name "protein" is derived from the Greek word proteos, meaning “primary” or “first place.”

Protein serves a few functions in your body such as:

  1. The growth, repair, and maintenance of muscle
  2. Cause of Biochemical Reactions in the body
  3. Regulates your hormones
  4. Provides structure for the body
  5. Balances fluids
  6. Boosts immunity
  7. Regulates the concentrations of acids and bases in your blood and other bodily fluids

The most important function is its ability to help you build and repair muscle especially as you age.

Muscle is our longevity organ. It's what can separate us from living in a nursing home and living independently when we get older.

Unfortunately, we lose 3-8% of muscle every decade after 30 and this number accelerates after the age of 60.

Most people are told to eat less protein, when in fact, we need more of it.

When I tell people how much protein they need to eat I usually get the reply,

"Dan, how am I supposed to eat that much protein??"

...And I get it.

Especially when someone has been under-eating protein every day of their life getting enough can seem like a big amount.

So allow me to share with you a simple system our clients our Lean Body 90 community use to get the right amounts of protein in our bodies.

Your Step by Step Guide to Eating More Protein

Step 1 - Track your food

The best way to eat more protein is to find out how much protein you're eating in the first place.

Use a calorie and macro tracking app like Myfitnesspal or Macrofactor and start tracking your meal intake.

There are 2 things you're looking out for:

  1. How many calories are you taking in?
  2. How much protein are you taking in?

Do this for a week straight.

You can't know where you're going before you know where you're starting from.

This doesn't mean you'll be tracking foods for the rest of your life but it does mean you're measuring what needs to be managed, which in this case is your protein.

Step 2 - Calculate how much protein you need

For active individuals, the number is .8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight.

Example for a 180 lbs man:

180 x .8 = 144 grams of protein

Example for 140 lbs woman:

140 x .8 = 112 grams of protein

Step 3 - Make the right protein choices

A great rule I use for protein is to base it off of the calorie-to-protein ratio, which is how much protein you get for the amount of calories you're taking in.

Here's a ranked list of proteins based on the calories to protein ratio that you can print and bring with you:

Also, here's my list of the best protein sources on the planet.

The best way to eat more protein is to make better choices.

This doesn't mean you'll have to restrict your diet to only eating "optimal" protein sources. It helps make better choices using the list above (and tracking).

Step 4 - Follow the High Performance Protein System

To optimize protein absorption it's best to eat protein 3-4x throughout the day.

There are many different ways to get this done but here's the system we use with our clients and the Lean Body 90.

Keep in mind this is for people who work desk jobs and don't have much time on their hands.

#1 - The first thing we do is drink what I call The Dan Go Shake:

It's two scoops of protein with one scoop each of greens powder, creatine, and psyllium husk.

  • The greens acts like a multivitamin, which helps us get some nutrient insurance for the day.
  • The creatine helps us build muscle, improve performance, and boost cognitive function.
  • The psyllium husk helps us maintain good gut health, regulates my cholesterol levels, and adds some fiber to the drink.

The most important time to take in protein is your first feeding of the day.

It helps you break a long night of fasting while keeping you feeling fuller and more satisfied to start your morning.

#2 - Get at least 35 to 50 grams of protein in our 2nd meal aka. Lunch

We either get this through prepping meals, meal prep delivery, or ordering out.

  • The high effort low-cost way of making this happen is to prep your meals every week.
  • The low effort medium cost way of making this happen is to order meal prep delivery.
  • The medium effort high cost way of making this happen is to order from Uber or go out to restaurants.

My personal preference is to order from a local meal prep delivery.

I don't have to think about it and through a bit of research on Google, you can make sure you get the right amount of protein along with the right amount of calories.

The biggest benefit is not having to choose my meals, which opens up my brain for other things.

If you don't have the resources to do this (or it's not possible in your local area) then prepping your meals every week is the next best choice.

I'd go about doing this by prepping my proteins all in one shot on Sundays. Takes about 1-2 hours to do but you can have ready-made protein in your hands in no time.

#3 - Our final meal is high protein piece of meat

This is chosen using one of the protein sources in the protein choice list above.

For myself and my clients, I would choose 250 to 350 grams of chicken breast, lean ground beef, salmon, or steak to end the day.

This can be interchangeable with meal 2 but I prefer to budget most of my calories towards the end of the day to maximize my focus and energy for the beginning of the day.

My example of getting 170 grams of protein:

Meal 1 - Dan Go shake (50 grams)
Meal 2 - Meal prep at 500 calories (40 grams of protein)
Meal 3 - 300 gram 90% lean ground beef stir fry (60 grams of protein)
Optional Dessert - 0% Chobani Greek yogurt with raw honey (22 grams of protein)

This actually puts me over daily goal but that's okay. It's not about being exact. It's about getting the right amount consistently.

Notes on this system:

  • This is about consistency and rhythm. It'll be hard at first but once you get in a rhythm it becomes easier.
  • Play around with the timing as well as the meals to suit your preferences. There are many ways to go about this so long as you hit your protein target you're good to go.
  • Aim to eat similar meals every day for a few weeks to get the hang of how much protein is going into your body.

Step 5 - Other sneaky ways of adding more protein to your diet

Greek yogurt as a desert

Let's say you still need to hit your protein target but want to do so without eating another piece of meat or drinking a protein shake.

Easy. Grab some 0% Greek yogurt and add some raw honey as a snack. Or you can grab those packs at the grocery store.

Drink a protein shake after a workout or before sleeping

Drinking a protein shake after your workout doesn't necessarily increase absorption but acts as a way of getting extra grams in your body.

Having a shake before sleeping has been shown to improve muscle building as it helps you absorb protein as you sleep.

If you're vegetarian or vegan eat high protein sources and supplement

If you're plant based it's a bit more difficult to get your protein needs but not impossible.

Aim for higher protein sources like legumes, quinoa, and edamame, and be open to supplementing with vegan sources of protein powder.

At the end of this article is a list of the 7 best vegan sources of protein. Click the link to access.

Find high-protein recipes for your favorite treats

There's a way to eat pancakes, ice cream, chicken fingers, and other delights by finding awesome recipes that are both moderate in calories and high in protein.

A great resource for that is my friend Zach Rocheleau from Flexible Dieting Lifestyle on Instagram. You can click here for a free pdf and flexible high-protein recipe ideas.

When it comes to protein think in systems

Protein is the most important macronutrient we can put into our bodies.

The trick is making sure you're getting enough for your needs.

Getting more protein into your body is simple but not easy but you can make this easier on yourself by finding a system that works for you.

Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas on how to add more protein into your diet.

It's helped me as well as many others and I hope it helps you.

Onwards and upwards 🚀

- Dan

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References:

  1. Volpi E, Nazemi R, Fujita S. Muscle tissue changes with aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Jul;7(4):405-10. doi: 10.1097/01.mco.0000134362.76653.b2. PMID: 15192443; PMCID: PMC2804956.
  2. Stokes T, Hector AJ, Morton RW, McGlory C, Phillips SM. Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients. 2018 Feb 7;10(2):180. doi: 10.3390/nu10020180. PMID: 29414855; PMCID: PMC5852756.
  3. https://www.cell.com/cell-reports-medicine/fulltext/S2666-3791(23)00540-2

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