52 Weeks of Healthy Eating- Week 2 – The power of Protein

I want to begin a discussion over the next few weeks about macronutrients or macros.  These are the fuel and energy sources of our food.  Done right, we create the high octane that fuels our body and sustains us over the day.  There are three macro nutrients: Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins.

Today, I want to look at protein.

      Protein contains four elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.  It is the building block of muscle growth and is composed of 20 amino acids, 9 of which, histidine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalamine, threonine, tryptophan and valine are not made by the body and must be obtained through our diet.  There are 11 others that are considered non essential amino acids that can be synthesized in the body: alarnine, arginine, aspargine, apspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.  As mentioned in previous posts, there are a number of diets out there, but only a diet that contains animal proteins can one get a complete protein profile.  Much debate occurs in the nutrion industry and 2020 saw a huge wave of interest in vegan and plant based diets.  It is understood that vegan and vegetarian diets offer incomplete proteins, meaning that they are missing at least on amino acid.  If not adhered to consistently, this lack of micro nutrients can lead to a variety of physical and mental health concerns. 

       One can get a complete protein on a plant based diet by combining inclomplete proteins like rice and beans or peanut butter and bread.  There are micronutrients including B12, riboflavin, calcium, vitamin D, iron (heme iron is what is only found in animal proteins) and zinc that Vegans must be mindful of to ensure they are getting a proper balance.  There are diet protocols that follow sound nutritional priniciples and that have been studied on a large scale that can help one who chooses a vegan or vegetarian diet.  In my observations over the years, I found the Wahls diet, the Mediterranian, Okinawan diet, Blue Zones diet, DASH and Ornish Protocols to offer fairly substantive and complete macro and micro nutrient profiles to their meal plans and usually recieve fairly positive remarks from medical and nutritional experts. 

What do we need? Sedentary adults need about .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. An active individual may need as high as 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. You can supplement with protein powders. To keep it simple, you get what you pay for, but the cheap stuff will work. As a rule of thumb, if you consume it and it makes you feel funny, stop taking it. Whey protein has it all and is offered in concentrate, isolate and hydrolyzed. If you are sensitive to milk or other whey products, hydrolyzed may be a good choice for you. Whey isolates are the purest form of whey. Concentrates contain lactose, fat and minerals and are good for bulking.

Why do we need protein? Protein is important in the formula you use when considering your macros. Protein is more satiating than fat and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates placed poorly in the diet and with a heavy emphasis can leave one feeling hungry prematurely. In looking at obesity, protein has a key role in weight loss and weight management. Utilizing protein efficiently, one can experience sustained satiety, energy expenditure, and sparing fat free body mass. It is important to work with a Registered Dietician for one to be able to understand their protein needs.

Soy protein. In some situations, some caution should be given due to issues with estrogen interruption. It is beyond my scope of practice to go much into this without digging into research. It is accepted by science for one not to overuse Soy protein is there is a history of breast cancer. See your doctor and/or nutritionist for further guidance.

After exercise. It depends on what you are trying to do. As an athlete, I will supplement my lifting pre workout with 5 g of Creatine, a scoop of Protein and Almond milk. Afterward, I will use Casein which is another form of protein powder that is slower to digest and is more effective for muscle recovery. If you are weight training for performance, hypertrophy or even toning muscle, protein powders may be appropriate. It is important to talk with your coach, nutritionist or doctor on your needs. For most though, protein is not needed post exercise. Don’t give into the gimmicky protein bars being sold at the gym. The data is limited on the true effectiveness of protein synthesis from protein supplementation. With anything, it is better to consume your macros from your diet.


This week on the menu:


High Protein/ High Fat Steel Cut Oats

1/8 + 1/4 C of Steel Cut Oats + 3/4 + 1/8 and 1/4 C of water.  Bring Water to boil, add oats, 1t of salt and 1T of butter and bring to a slow simmer for 20 mintues.  In the last 10 minutes, add 1/4 of Craisins and 1 t of cinnamon.  When done, remove from heat and add 1 scoop of your favorite flavor of protein powder and 1T of Swerve Brown Sugar.  I am using a Cinnamon Toast Crunch flavor protein powder from the Vitamin Shoppe and the flavor is out of this world. 

This can be made in a slow cooker, add the same amount of milk or water, oats, cinnamon butter and salt to cooker and put on low before you go to bed.  When you get up in the morning, make your coffee or tea, add your Craisins, Swerve and Protein Powder to the oats and enjoy.

Scrambled Egg Wraps

6-8 oz of egg whites beaten with 1 whole egg.  Toss the whole lot into two low carb wheat tortillas with 1 oz of shredded cheddar divided between the two, add some salsa and mangia! 

Buffalo Chicken Dip and veggies – use any old Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe here.  I am using Pork Rinds as my chip and supplementing with veggies for my micro nutrient and carb profile. 

Broccoli Salad and grilled chicken- again, there are lots of Broccoli Salad recipes out there, I have nothing special to add here. 


Keto Italian Beef Bake: https://kaseytrenum.com/low-carb-ground-beef-recipe-italian-keto-beef-skillet/


A.M –

1/4 C  of unsalted mixed roasted Nuts and 2 oz of Cheese Chai tea with cream or whole milk in it. Lunch meat and cheese roll up ( two slices of each)

Protein Shake – p.m. – 8 oz of 2% milk, 1 cup of frozen fruit, 1 scoop of CASIEN protein powder.  For something different, add also 1 t of xanthum gum and blend until fluffy.  Or 8 oz of almond milk, 1 cup of frozen fruit, 1 scoop of CASEIN protein powder, 2T of olive oil, 1T of Walden Farms Maple syrup Pre workout shake: 8 oz of almond milk, 1 scoop of protein powder and 5 g of Creatine.


Fisch, J (2018). The Easy 5- Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low Carb, High – Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet. Rock Rock Ridge Press

K. (2020, April 5). Low Carb Ground Beef Recipe: Italian Keto Beef Skillet. Kasey Trenum. https://kaseytrenum.com/low-carb-ground-beef-recipe-italian-keto-beef-skillet/

Kruskall, L. J. (2018). Exercise Professionals Guide to Sports Nutrition and Weight Management (2nd Ed) (2nd ed.). Healthy Learning.

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