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Low Protein High Protein paleo macronutrient ratios-min

Low Protein? High Protein?

In case you didn’t already know, dietary protein is essential for human health. Protein is used in the body to build and maintain new tissue such as muscle, hair, nails, skin, bone and blood cells. It is also required to create the enzymes for the body to carry out certain processes, such as the digestion of food; and neurotransmitters, which control your ability to carry out basic tasks (like thought and movement). US dietary guidelines recommend a daily intake of 45g per day for females, and 55g per day for males. In reality, you need much more to maintain optimum health, especially if you’re active. But just how much should you be taking in? And is it possible to consume too much?

Put simply, the amount of protein you need is unique to each individual. For a sedentary person, Many sources recommend around 1g of protein per kilo of bodyweight as a realistic amount needed to maintain lean mass. If you’re more active, you’ll be looking at around 1.5g – and if you’re lifting (and looking to increase lean muscle mass), between 1.8g and 2.0g per kilo of bodyweight is optimal. For example, a 70kg man training three times per week and looking to increase his muscle mass should be targeting between 130g and 140g of protein per day. That’s the equivalent of around 3 eggs, one chicken breast, a handful of almonds and one sirloin steak – so is by no means reaching into the realms of ‘forced’ protein.

Low Protein High Protein paleo macronutrient ratios-min

Indeed, if protein forms the majority of your caloric intake, then you’re probably consuming too much. Fat should be your main source of energy, with between 15 and 25% coming from protein. Too much protein can create excess toxins in the body, and put a significant strain on the liver and heart. Not ideal.

Chances are, your Paleo diet already features a respectable amount of protein and you’ll probably be achieving your protein ‘target’ without even knowing it. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds are all good sources of this macro-nutrient. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are found in plants as well – albeit in various quantities. If a food contains all of the ‘essential’ amino acids, then this food is considered a ‘complete’ protein. As plant protein sources are normally lacking in at least one of the essential amino acids, they are usually considered as ‘incomplete’ protein. This is one of the reasons it is hard for vegans to consume adequate protein, and leads to them having to selectively combine foods to achieve a complete amino acid profile.

To conclude, it is probably much better you focus on the quality of the protein you are taking in rather than the quantity. Don’t worry too much about hitting a ‘target amount’ – simply build each meal around a high quality protein source like red meat, poultry, fish or eggs. Consume extra if you’re active, especially on training days. But don’t stress yourself out about it; you’re much more likely to be getting a solid amount of protein each day simply by eating real foods.

Paleo Protein Smoothie juice juicing primal diet recipe-min

Recipe: Paleo Protein Smoothie

Although blenders weren’t around 2000 years ago, I’m pretty sure that if they were, this is what our ancestors would have done with them. Smoothies like this are a great post workout recovery. Make one up in advance and it’s an instant grab and go option.

Protein Smoothie Ingredients:

200ml apple juice
1 tbsp linseed
2 tbsp hemp seed
1 tbsp almond butter
1 banana
2 egg whites (optional)

Protein Smoothie How To:

1) Separate the egg whites from the egg yolk. Transfer all the contents to your blender, whizz together until smooth. Taste. Add a little honey if needed.

Paleo Protein Smoothie juice juicing primal diet recipe-min

Are Protein Powders Paleo primal whey casein pea rice hemp-min

Are Protein Powders Paleo?

I’ve had a few emails recently asking whether protein powders are Paleo – and which ones I would recommend.

Of course, real food is always the best option, but I understand that there are times when a liquid protein “meal” is called for – particularly for people who are crossfitting or lifting weights, perhaps. A post workout meal seems to be the main time people use protein supplements, as they try to replenish the protein and glycogen that they used during their workout.

Are Protein Powders Paleo primal whey casein pea rice hemp-min

Real Food Post Workout Protein Options:

Fortunately, there are some quick ways to get a protein hit post workout. Try preparing in advance and taking along with you:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Tins of (good quality) fish
  • Leftover chicken or turkey
  • Jerky

Whey Protein Powder

A popular form of protein supplement is whey protein. Whey is a by product of cheese making (as in curds and whey), so it is a naturally occurring protein, which contains the proteins beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, and serum albumin. As whey is clearly dairy, is isn’t Paleo, and as it is processed, isn’t really Primal either. Whey protein is anti-atherogenic, quick to absorb and is supposed to help with increasing lean muscle mass.

Casein Protein

Casein protein is another milk based protein, but is not as quick to absorb as whey protein.

Egg White Protein

Is another good choice and represents all amino acids

Pea Protein

This is a common vegan protein powder, but is not absorbed as well as animal based protein powders.

Rice Protein

Made from brown rice, this is another vegan protein. Could be a good option is allergic to dairy proteins.

Hemp Protein

This is becoming very popular as another vegetarian/ vegan option, but is also not as well absorbed at the dairy based powders.

Unfortunately, the dairy based protein powders can come from the milk of cows treated with hormones. If you’ve looked at the ingredients of many powders, you may have noticed artificial sweeteners soy products, and ingredients you can’t even pronounce – not remotely Paleo. For that reason the only protein powder I would recommend (if you feel the need to take one) would be Primal Fuel, from the Primal Blueprint. This is a whey protein, which contains by far the best natural ingredients of any powder I’ve looked at – and no soy, artificial flavourings or sweeteners.

Paleo Primal Fuel Potein Powder Supplement Whey Order

Do you take protein supplements? I’d love to hear under what circumstances – and which ones you use.

Paleo Breakfast Ideas primal diet suggestions recipes list-min

Paleo Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast seems to be the meal people struggle with when moving over to a Paleo diet.

The word breakfast may be synonymous with cereal, toast, pancakes and many other refined carbs – but it really doesn’t have to be.  Breakfast is simply the first meal of the day the “break” the “fast” you’ve carried out since your last meal the previous day.

I’m thrilled to announce I’ve just finished my first recipe book; the Paleo Breakfast Recipe book, with over 100 pages of beautifully photographed step-by-step recipes – check it out and let me know what you think! I hope you love it as much as I do.

A Paleo Breakfast?

I think the first step is to remove the association of breakfast with a specific type of meal.  Breakfast does not equal cereal, swimming in skim milk.  Think of breakfast on its nutritional merits; that is, base your first meal of the day around a good protein source and marry this with a good fat source and some vegetables.  You may initially find the idea of having meat for breakfast odd, but it’s worth persevering with this, as good quality meat can be a great way to start the day.

If you don’t have much time in the mornings you need to be organised and prepare as much as you can the night before.  I find it helps to plan all of my meals for the whole week in advance, at the weekend.  I then buy the ingredients, so I have no excuses and everything I need on hand.A lot of people skip breakfast, which might be the right thing to do.  If however your reason for skipping breakfast is that you can’t get out of bed in time to make breakfast – this indicates to me that you need breakfast!

Eggs For Breakfast?

Eggs are an obvious breakfast choice.  They are quick, nutritious and very versatile.  I often have bacon & eggs, scrambled eggs with avocado or an omelette, with whichever vegetables I have in the fridge.  I always cook in coconut oil.  Another favourite is making up a batch of egg muffins at the weekend.  I make these up as I would an omelette, but pour them into muffin cases and cook in the oven.  These last for a few days in the fridge and are perfect for busy days when there isn’t enough time to make something from scratch.

I’ll also often cook extra chicken at the weekend which is great to base a breakfast around and doesn’t need to be reheated, I think it’s great cold.  Chicken and avocado is a great combination.

Leftovers are another great breakfast, once you’ve got used to the idea of having “untraditional” breakfasts.  You can’t get much quicker and easier than that!

Occasionally at weekends I’ll make Paleo pancakes (using coconut or almond meal).  This is great served with a berry sauce, made with fresh berries, blended in coconut milk.   Noatmeal is another infrequent Paleo indulgence which is a great way to start the day.

Paleo-Pancakes-breakfast-min

Whilst strictly, I guess it is Paleo, I never have just fruit for breakfast.  I always base my meal around protein and include fat.  To have fruit (carbohydrate) as a meal on its own would be depriving myself of essential fats and proteins, would raise my blood sugar level and I’d very quickly be hungry.

What are your favourite Paleo breakfasts?  I’d love to hear, in the comments below.

Paleo Breakfast Ideas primal diet suggestions recipes list-min