Protein Challenge Update #1

Photo Apr 12, 6 41 11 PM

Someone I’m married to just ate ALL of the beef & bean protein-packed, veggie-loaded chili leftovers from last night. I feel like there should be an online support group for such things. The brief yet vivid fantasy of skillfully Kung Fu’ing the love of my life to steal the bowl right out of his hands wasn’t fueled by extreme hunger more than the fact that it was really tasty chili. Or maybe it’s the empty container on the counter two feet away from the sink/dishwasher* and the rest of the dirty dishes in my periphery, speckled with old food like so many glaring eyeballs. I’m writing this at lunch time because RBII is randomly extending her AM nap longer than usual. My time for blog writing and lunch strategery could be over any. Second. Now. File under: pitfalls of working from the ranch.

Fortunately this is the first of such struggles since I started the 30 Day Protein Challenge on April 2nd. If not Kung Fu’ing your husband wasn’t challenging enough, here is why I’ve taken this on:

  • While I contend that the main key to my success at maintaining a healthy weight is un-diet style moderation and not over-thinking it, the foundation is building and maintaining lean muscle. This worked for me before-babies, and it’s still my approach. According to Seattle-Based registered dietitian nutritionist Carrie Dennett, this may be trickier to accomplish as I’ve entered a new over 30 demographic (What? When? Who the hell authorized this!?):

“We lose about 1 percent of our muscle each year after about age 30 unless we actively take steps to not lose it. To help preserve muscle and stay healthy as we age, adults may need half a gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. ”  – Carrie Dennett, Seattle Times, March 22, 2015

  • I do exercise that combines cardio and strength training/muscle building. I do this because it is good for me, mind and body. But I do want the result of muscle building, and the research leads me to the conclusion that I need to eat an adequate amount of protein to support that goal (see above).
  • Finally, it goes back to that memorable line in The 40 Year Old Virgin where Steve Carrell asks the health educator, “Is it true that if you don’t use it, you lose it?”

40 year old virgin

 Well in this case, the research points to the answer being yes. Yes, if you aren’t consuming enough protein at every meal, you’re missing out on the benefits that cannot be made up for by just eating one protein heavy meal (usually dinner). The 30 Day Protein Challenge is a direct answer to this, offering tips and guidance for reaching the 25-30 grams of protein per meal each day that is optimal for most adults.
I’ve been at it for 12 days now, here is what I’m experiencing:
  • I don’t find it very difficult to reach 25- 30 grams of protein per meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Most of our meals are constructed of the After Baby Un-Diet formula of lean beef/meat + veggies + simple sauce = winner.
  • It is much easier (not surprising), and more calorie efficient (maybe surprising to some) to get at least 25 grams of protein when a meal includes meat. While it’s true there are a variety of dairy foods, grains and beans that contain protein, piecing together a meal that hits the mark requires more ingredients and more calories.
I like that I am starting to memorize the amount of protein and nutrients in these different foods and experimenting with them in meals, but they are working for me as companions to, not replacements of beef and other meat protein.
Photo Apr 07, 8 32 50 AM
  • It is much easier execute to a protein-rich breakfast and lunch with leftovers. Leftover steak or roast (Smokey Eye of Round pictured above) is my favorite, especially for breakfast
  • On breakfast. I just can’t oversell how clutch beef is at breakfast. I’ve been toggling between a couple different breakfasts based on the ingredients I have and what I like.
Breakfast #1: 502 Calories – 22 grams protein
2 Cups Black Coffee (first things first amiright)
Homemade  Smoothie:
8 oz Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Fresh Squeezed Orange
1 Cup Spinach leaves
1 Cup frozen blackberries
2 Hard Boiled Eggs
Breakfast #2: 430 Calories – 35 grams protein
2 Cups Black Coffee (duh)
Fresh Squeezed OJ
Beef Breakfast Taco:
3 oz Smoky Round Roast (leftover)
1 over easy egg
1/4th Haas Avocado
Small Corn/Wheat Tortilla
2 TB Salsa Fresca (store bought)
I like both of these breakfasts a lot. They are super easy and super quick. And yes, I realize I could cut like half the yogurt calories of the smoothie by opting for the 0% fat version. I probably wouldn’t even notice since it’s in a smoothie. But I’d still have to use more of it or add another protein source to this already pretty rocking breakfast to net the protein I’m looking for. And I’m still not afraid of dairy fat so I’m probably not going to. I’ve also never used protein supplement powder under the general philosophy that I prefer steak-shaped protein. Protein powder most definitely blends better, but I’d have to look into the cost, ingredients, texture/taste, and options out there on the market. And as you might have guessed, nap time is over.
  • Lastly, journaling. The Protein Challenge is all about journaling. It’s slowly becoming a habit for this non-habit-forming Gemini. At first I was kind of annoyed because it feels like the behavior of a dieter, and I’m not about that. But it doesn’t feel diety, because the entire point is recording data and observations (sciencey!), not about sticking to an eating plan someone made for you (and thousands of other sheeple who buy/buy into a given diet program). I’m using the MyFitnessPal app (username @ranchwifery, let’s be friends!) to input the foods I eat and my observations of how I feel. Next time, I’ll share some of those results.
Wondering if you’re getting enough protein? Sign up for the 30 Day Protein Challenge to take control of this key corner of your nutrition. It’s free and starts the day you sign up! Meanwhile, here’s a new favorite from my kitchen, 35 grams of protein, ready in under 30 minutes: Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps
Photo Mar 14, 4 26 16 PM
*Rancher did put the chili dishes in the sink before he went back out to work. I will kiss, not Kung Fu him when he gets in tonight from a day of spring chores.

2 thoughts on “Protein Challenge Update #1

  1. Pingback: Protein Challenge Recap: An Unexpected Healthy Eating Hack | ranch wife life

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