It’s the most important macronutrient in our diets yet most people don’t get enough of it. PROTEIN! Protein derives from the Greek word proteiosmeaning, “primary” or “holding the first place”. But what types of proteins should you be eating and when should you be eating them?

Protein takes longer for your body to break down therefore, leaving you satiated, or feeling fuller longer. When your body breaks down proteins you will get a higher thermic effect of food. The thermic effect of food is essentially the digestion of your food. As your body is digesting you will be BURNING CALORIES! Good rule of thumb is that if it takes longer for you to chew, then the longer it takes your body to digest and the MORE calories you’ll burn.

So when is the best time to drink your protein shake? After a workout you’re in what is called a anabolic breakdown, meaning your body is going to break down proteins quicker and use them for muscle recovery. This is the best time to get your protein shake. Immediately after is ideal, the window for the anabolic window is about 30 minutes. Men aim for 30-40g of protein and women aim for 20-30g.

Throughout your day, animal proteins are going to be the best type of proteins. There’s controversy around grain fed beef and grass fed beef but there is a difference. Firstly, the taste, if you haven’t had it you’ll have to be the judge for yourself but it’s delicious. Grass fed beef has a lower cholesterol and crotein levels. It usually contains less fat. A 6 oz beef tenderloin has 92 fewer calories than grain fed. Higher levels of antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin A and high levels of omega 3.

Same thing goes for chicken. Free range chickens aren’t cooped up in a factory farm shelter. Factory farm raised chickens are kept in close quarters and pumped full of antibiotics. Next time when you’re at the grocery store and you’re looking at the organic chicken breast next to the non-organic chicken wondering, “why are they so much smaller?” remember that they are ORGANIC. They aren’t pumped full of hormones or sodium. Same goes for salmon and shrimp. When buying those you want to look for wild caught not farm raised. Just remember that the happier/healthier the animal the happier the protein on your plate.

EGGS-don’t be afraid of eggs. There’s stigma around eggs and cholesterol but if you’re working out (or not) you need the right types of foods to fuel your body. Eggs are rich in iron, phosphorus, selenium and vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5 (among others). Egg whites or “casing proteins” are going to be a slower digesting protein. They are great for before bed. They are low in calories, high in protein, and will keep you full through the night and will keep you burning calories while you sleep.

PROTEIN INTAKE-Eat at least 1g per lb of body weight and if you lift weights aim for 1.25-1.5 g per lb of body weight. If you’re 32% body fat or higher aim for 1g per lb of LEAN BODY mass. For people who are sedentary aim for .75g per lb of body weight or lean body mass.

Bottom line, you need to set yourself up for success. Meal prep is your best friend. If you leave the house in the morning with no food it’s likely you’ll cheat and eat something that’s not in your meal plan. Key is to fuel your body right. You can’t outrain a bad diet or a bad mindset.