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Protein, the fountain of youth

Let's review really quickly from yesterday- the take away...

Calories= energy

Protein energy= 4 cal/ gram

Carbohydrate energy= 4 cal/ gram

Fat energy= 9 cal/ gram

See a pattern here... If you want more energy (higher calories) then eat more fat. It's a much more dense energy source (more than 2x that of carbs and protein) and will keep you full longer than the other two. If you want to lose weight (fat I presume, no one in their right mind wants to lose muscle), then limit fat (not eliminate). Got it???

Now- to protein. Let's talk about body composition. Muscle tissue is metabolically expensive. Meaning, it takes more energy (calories) to fuel muscle cells at rest than it does to fuel fat cells at rest. So the more muscle you have, the more you have to eat to fuel that muscle. That's a good thing. However, because it is so metabolically expensive, if you don't use the muscle that you have your body will get rid of it (burn it for energy) because it is wasteful to use energy on muscle that isn't essential for you. Make sense? Good. Also good to know, the more muscle you have, the less fat you have because of all of the above.

As we age, we tend to be more sedentary (you don't say), and because of that we tend to have less muscle (there are other factors, but that's for another post). This is NOT a good thing. Muscle is what keeps you young and mobile (i.e, able to get off the floor when you are old, able to carry your groceries, able to play with your kids and grandkids, etc.). Muscle also keeps your skin tighter because it is a dense tissue, unlike fat. All good things.

So it terms of keeping the muscle you have, and potentially building more you need to eat enough protein to fuel that muscle. You cannot effectively build and maintain muscle easily without protein, and particularly complete protein (animal products (and soy kind of, more on soy later)).

Another caveat- if this is hurting your brain and you don't want to think about and/or measure your food. Cool, just eat whole foods MOST of the time and make sure you include protein at every meal. For those of you that want more in depth guidance, read on.

The general recommendation is that you eat .8 to 1 grams of protein per lb. of lean body mass. Wait, what?? This is a huge range and few of you know your lean body mass. If you want the easy answer just eat .6 to 1g per 1 lb. of body weight.

Let's use me as an example: I weigh approximately 120#, therefore I eat ~120g of protein per day. This is probably FAR more than most of you eat and it is easier said than done.

So how much protein is in food? I'm so glad you asked. There are a million sources on the internet, however the most correct can be found here. Boneless, skinless chicken breast has ~8.3 g of protein per oz. I would need to eat ~14 oz per day (split up however ). Most restaurant servings of meat are 4-6 oz of meat.

The take away for today- protein keeps you young and firm- eat it at every meal!! Tomorrow we take a break from the technical nutrition info and have some fun.



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