I never wanted to measure much less write about what I eat, but here I am. I don’t really have a choice based on what I am trying to accomplish physically over the next new months.
It has come to my attention that my diet may be sorely lacking in protein. One reason I have always looked shrimpy and don’t gain muscle mass is that, despite all the exercise I do, apparently my body is eating itself. Sorry about that image; let’s move on…
To make a long story short, I have stepped up my upper body work in the gym, thanks to training and encouragement from David and John. However, until the last couple of days I failed to follow up my workouts with necessary nutrition, by which I mean massive amounts of protein. I always assumed that because I was eating a lot of food that I was, by some law of averages, ingesting enough protein. I was shocked that I had lost weight after about a week of the new regimen; I’m not exactly sure, but I can only assume that once my body burned through the carbs I had given it, it was taking back fuel from my muscles? Will have to research the science behind that some more…
Simply to stop the bleeding, so to speak, I bought a couple of high-protein bars at Trader Joe’s (20 grams per bar; some types have only 10, and I skipped those), and I had extra eggs one morning. Now, I’ve piggybacked on David’s order of some supplements as a longer-term solution — I’m getting some whey protein isolate. I’ve used this stuff before; it’s an extremely efficient source (and it does not taste very good despite the fact that it is advertised as “unflavored”).
At any rate, a trainer at Forma echoed what David and John told me, which is that the goal is to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. I don’t think I have been very close to that. However, I really don’t know, because like I said, I don’t measure.
I’m going to start measuring.
I’m a number cruncher by trade, so the pitfalls of this exercise are immediately and intuitively apparent to me. It’s quite easy to find nutritional data online and on food packaging. The problem is knowing how much I am eating. Knowing the weights of food portions in ounces and cups, etc., is not as easy as it may sound. Nevertheless, I have to take a stab at it. [Note, I am using the following website for my nutrition data:] http://nutritiondata.self.com/
I refuse to let this become a habit or obsession. My immediate goal is to keep track of my diet for, say, about a week, and try to count up the protein per day as best I can in order to get a “ballpark” feel for it. I presume I will find that my typical daily consumption of food has been short of the goal, and in essence I’ll be able to simply add “X” amount of protein per day in order to approximate the total amount I need.
As a start, here is what I’ve eaten today (with my guesses at portion sizes and protein amounts):
1st breakfast (before Forma) — bowl of cereal, about 1 cup Safeway shredded wheat, 1 cup Cheerios, about 3/4 cup of milk — 16 grams (g) protein total.
2nd breakfast (after Forma) — TJ’s protein bar, 20g.
Mid-morning snacks — 2 small mandarin oranges, 0g; quarter cup of peanuts, 7g.
Lunch — ahi tuna salad, about 2.5 oz? about 17g; sweet potato & shrimp fritters, I have no idea on the protein, let’s call it 3g more.
Afternoon snacks — 1 apple, 0g; 1 small cookie, 0g.
Dinner — about 4 pieces of chicken (some white meat, some dark, they differ in protein!), I am guessing at least half a pound total, maybe 8 ounces @ 7g per, that’s good, that’s around 56g protein, yay! about a cup and a half of mashed potatoes (this was a surprise to me!), the website says that’s 6g protein. about half a cup of peas (from frozen), basically 0g.
Guesstimated total thus far today (before nighttime snacks and a Guinness, wink wink): 125 grams of protein. Huh. I’m surprised, that’s not too far short, if accurate. To put it in context, without the protein bar after my workout I would have fallen way short, and I usually don’t eat that much chicken. (Note: I ended up NOT having any nighttime snacks, but the Guinness had 1g of protein LOL, so my final tally was 126g!)
Anyway, that is my Day One report to myself.
Follow-up question to research: my co-worker who is a runner, lean, and very health conscious, pointed out to me that he was told or read that over a given period of time the body can only process a certain amount of protein, and some just passes through the body; so, I did OK at spreading out my intake over the course of the day, but how much might have been wasted?