Weight Management Counseling and Support Services
How much protein do you really need?
Most research has found that the average person needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. To figure out your daily needs, follow this simple formula:
Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 – this is your weight in kilograms.
Example: if you weigh 150 pounds,
150 / 2.2 = 68.2
Multiply this number by 0.8 – this is the number of grams of protein you need each day.
Example: 68.2 * 0.8g = 54.6;
You would need about 55 grams of protein per day.
Your protein needs will also depend on your activity level. If you are sedentary, you will likely need only 0.4 grams of protein per kg of body weight, whereas recreational exercisers will need 0.5 – 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. If you are very active and work out at a moderate to intense level for 30-60 minutes more than 4 days per week, you may need up to 1.0 gram of protein per kg of body weight. In the above example, this means that this person would need somewhere between 55 and 68 grams of protein per day based on the activity level (assuming this person is at least moderately active).
Research on body builders has shown that they may require up to 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kg of body weight. However, it is important to realize that body builders have very unique nutritional needs based on the strain they are placing on their bodies and muscle tissue. There tends to be a faulty assumption in our society that because protein’s function in the body is to build and repair muscles and that body builders consume larger quantities of protein, then eating like they do will produce in greater muscle gain. This link is faulty; body builders build the muscle mass that they do because of their genetics and their workouts and not just because they consume extra protein. If you regularly consume more protein than your body needs and are not getting enough carbohydrates and other critical nutrients, there can be detrimental effects on your health
The Dangers of having too much protein
If your body does not have enough carbohydrates and has too much protein, it enters into a state known as ketosis. Ketosis is the accumulation in the blood of ketones (byproducts of fat oxidation) and represents the body’s adaptation to fasting or starvation. The theory behind low-carbohydrate diets is that inducing a constant state of ketosis cause people to lose weight regardless of how many calories from protein and fat are consumed because it causes the body to eventually burn fat for energy. Ketosis increases insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for the development of coronary artery disease, and glucose intolerance has been linked to hypertension and dyslipidemia. Maintaining a state of ketosis can also result in mild dehydration because the kidneys are burdened by having to rid the body of excess nitrogen. This can cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, nausea, fatigue, sleep problems, and worsening of kidney problems.
If you are eating too much protein and not enough carbohydrates, it is likely you are not eating enough fiber. Low intake of fiber can cause constipation, and may contribute to the development of hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, polyps, colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
High protein intake is also associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis due to calcium loss. When protein is digested, amino acids break apart and pass into the blood making the blood slightly acidic. Since your body needs to have a balanced pH level, calcium is pulled from the bones to neutralize acidity. Therefore, the more protein you have in your diet, the more acidic your blood will be and the more calcium that will be needed. Animal proteins (i.e. meats) are the main culprit of this cycle; grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits act as calcium savers.
In addition to calcium loss, maintaining a low-carbohydrate intake may be associated with an increase in blood pressure with age due to deficiencies of high-carbohydrate, high-fiber foods that protect against hypertension.
Consuming too much protein and not enough carbohydrates also results in poor athletic performance and impaired ability to have an effective workout due to depletion of glycogen stores, which the body burns for energy during exercise; carbohydrates are the body’s main source of glycogen. This is counter-productive, since most people either eat excessive protein under the assumption of either losing weight or building muscle mass and size; however these goals cannot be achieved without a proper exercise program.
Source: Blackburn et al. (2001), Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine
Intuitive eating is not a new concept, but the term may be to some. Imagine never having to think about what you ate or worry about your weight; that is what intuitive eating is. Young children are perfect examples of this. They only eat when they are hungry; they only eat when they want; they only eat as much as they want. A study was conducted on children’s eating habits by Pennsylvania State University. They found that when children are given a wide variety of foods, and are given the option to eat whatever they like, they typically choose a balanced diet. Children instinctively self-regulate what and how much they eat. They know what their bodies need for growth, so they eat it.
Over the years, kids are told what they should and shouldn’t eat, so over the years this simple concept is forgotten. We need to reconnect with the wisdom of intuitive eating, which will take time, patience, and practice. This change will not be easy. Changing your entire eating behaviors or habits can be difficult. One client mentioned that it’s important to be in the moment and listen to the advice from your body. Once you do this, a transformation occurs and a lasting change will result.
Intuitive eaters can distinguish between “stomach” (physical) hunger and “symbolic” (emotional, psychological, or spiritual) hunger. An intuitive eater will know the first signs of stomach hunger and will eat what and how much the body is wanting and needing.
Another key element of intuitive eating is giving yourself full permission to eat whatever you want. Aside from what we’ve been taught about foods and diets, food is not morally good or bad, it’s just food. The frequency and amounts that we eat make it healthy or unhealthy, which is individual not universal. Judging and criticizing will be obstacles in intuitive eating and can lead you back down the path of unhealthy eating. Stay connected to your body and you will discover those “bad’ foods will lost their appeal and you won’t overeat then.
Your body will guide you to what it wants and what is right for you, no one else can direct you. Intuitive eating comes from self-discovery. So, best wishes on your journey.
Source: Birsinger, Barbara. “Intuitive Eating – The Magic of Knowing.” The Argus-Courier, January 27, 1998.http://www.barbarabirsinger.com/
Eat Well…..Fight Fatigue with Food!
If you are tired, pooped, drained, you need to recharge! Don’t worry; you are not the only one. Many people have trouble getting up in the morning, get the afternoon slump, or just want to lounge on the couch after work. Many factors can cause these feelings, but nutrition is probably the leading issue. Having a well-balance diet can boost energy. The director of the Cleveland Clinic reports that food is our body’s fuel, and what you consume is going to impact the performance of your body.
Breakfast is the meal to start off your day right. Even though many people rush around to get where they need to go in the mornings, you need to set time aside for that beginning meal. Skipping breakfast can lead to tiredness by mid-morning. Breakfast has been shown to improve alertness and concentration and also sheds pounds by preventing overeating throughout the day.
Carbohydrates can be used for energy, and protein can be your source for endurance. Examples include: a whole grain bagel with cheese; cereal with fruit and yogurt; whole-grain toast with peanut butter and fruit; hard-boiled egg sliced into a whole-wheat pita; scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit; and oatmeal with raisins.
Eating well should continue throughout the day. Carbs have received a bad reputation, but this nutrient is a huge source of energy. Eat a combination of complex and simple carbohydrates such as whole grains and starchy veggies - potatoes, squash, pumpkin, and carrots. An immediate source of energy from simple carbohydrates can be found in fruit, veggies, and honey. The peak effect of sugar can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the dose. Fiber helps complex carbohydrates to be slowly absorbed by the body, which helps give a balanced release of energy, instead of the quick burst.
Like carbs, fat has also gotten a bad reputation. Too much of the bad fats is associated with heart disease, some cancers, and chronic illness. In the right amounts, fat can make foods taste good and is a concentrated source of energy. Choose polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils and seafood, and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, meat, and poultry.
Protein helps regulate the release of the energy that fats and carbs supply the body. Protein also maintains cells, transports hormones and vitamins, and creates muscle. Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and low-fat dairy products. If the body is not getting its fuel of carbs and fats, protein powers the body with energy.
Two-thirds of the body is composed of water. The fluid helps control body temperature through sweat, moves food through the intestines, greases the joints, and is an essential ingredient in the production of energy molecules. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of lack of energy. So remember to stay hydrated during those hot days and drink plenty of water while exercising.
Everyday more than half of Americans drink coffee; 25% drink it occasionally; and some say they cannot function without it. A combination of caffeine and sugar can improve alertness and performance, but result in a slump afterwards. The effects can vary person to person. Caffeine can also interfere with sleep, especially if it is consumed in the late afternoon.
Finding your Balance
Food can raise or diminish your energy levels. If you are eating well and still feel tired, try some variety and frequency in your meals. Some people have more energy if they eat several small meals throughout the day; others need three meals per day. Everyone’s energy needs differ.
Source: WebMd. “Foods to Fight Fatigue.”http://www.webmd.com/content/article/93/102493.htm.