When it comes to nutrition, I encourage my clients to start increasing protein in diet.  Protein is the building blocks of muscle.  So if you want defined arms, you need to eat protein.  You also need to lift weights.  Cardio alone will burn some calories, but won’t help get definition.

The majority of my female clients don’t eat nearly enough protein.  They’re doing the strength training during our workouts, but need to support it with increasing protein intake.  Eating adequate protein in your diet helps your muscles recover faster.  So you’re less sore.

How Much Protein Should You Eat

I recommend 0.8g/lb of body weight.  So if you weigh 160 pounds, you need to eat 147 grams of protein every day.

You may have heard that you should eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.  But here’s why I don’t recommend that much — part of your body weight is bone, which doesn’t require protein.  So the 0.8g/lb of body weight supports the amount of muscle you have.

Metabolism is influenced by how much muscle you have.  Want to burn more calories while you sleep?  Want to naturally speed up your metabolism?  Don’t be afraid of having muscles!  Not huge body building muscles — just enough to show that you look fit.  You need protein to maintain defined muscles.

Now, if you don’t eat even close to that much protein right now, it will be hard to figure out how to go about increasing protein in diet.  It will feel like a lot of protein.  It’s a big change and takes some time.  So below, I have my Top 10 Protein Sources.

You’ll notice that eggs, nuts, peanut butter, and cheese are not on the list.  That’s because they are higher in fat and lower in protein.  They are more of a source of fat than protein.  Eggs, for example, have 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat in each egg.  You can remove the yolk, though, and lower the fat grams dramatically.

Protein bars are easy and convenient for on the go eating.  Plus, there are so many kinds that you can find soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, etc.  No matter your food sensitivities, there is a protein bar out there for you!

If you eat vegetarian, it will be harder to get the quantity of protein you need each day.  Beans, legumes, and whole grains are decent sources of plant-based protein.  It’s likely that you will need supplements as well.

One product I like is Muscle Egg.  It’s flavored egg whites!  I drink the chocolate flavor as an afternoon snack every day.  It gives me 26 grams of protein in 8 ounces.  You can cook with Muscle Egg too!  It’s a nice alternative to protein powder.

Increasing Protein In Diet

To get the amount of protein you need, you’ll need to eat protein at every meal.  Personally, I like to have a protein shake first thing in the morning.  Then a protein bar mid-morning.

Lunch can be a salad with chicken or shrimp or a wrap or sandwich with meat.

My afternoon snack is greek yogurt and the Muscle Egg mentioned above.

Dinner, for me, always has a meat:  steak on the grill, something in the crockpot, sauteed chicken, baked fish, shrimp tacos, etc.

As you increase protein in your diet, be patient with the process.  It honestly took me 8 weeks to figure out how to eat that much protein.  Now that I have incorporated it, it feels more natural.  So stay the course!