Macros Part I: Brotein – The Building Blocks of Your Performance and Gains

May 24th, 2015: 2200 hours

I told you that a post on macro-nutrients was coming. But the more I researched, the more I realized that a single post on protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber would be monstrous and damn near impossible to read. Therefore, I am introducing a series of posts on macros. Part I is on, what I consider to be, the most important macro-nutrient — protein.

If you told me that you would only track your intake of one macro and asked me which one to use, I would, without hesitation, tell you to track your protein. Two main reasons exist for my conviction on this point: no other nutrient plays a bigger part in muscle-building (i.e. your performance) and there’s a pretty good chance that if you are trying to get more muscle, you aren’t eating enough protein.

It’s common knowledge that protein is the main player in tissue repair. For example, Mongo lifts heavy-ass weight. This workout causes Mongo’s muscles to tear. The body uses protein to repair the muscle tears. Mongo’s body is smart though. It realizes that it needs to improve to meet the increasing demands put on it by Mongo’s workload (i.e. weightlifting). The body will build Mongo’s damaged muscles bigger and better than they were before in order to meet a potential increase in workload. But Mongo needs to make sure he eats the right foods in the right amounts to help his body.

Your body is really fucking good at repairing and building itself. There are eleven Amino Acids (building blocks for protein) that your body makes naturally. If all you did was eat some food and lift weight, you would get stronger. That’s pretty good. But there are nine other Amino Acids that your body can’t make — you have to get them through your diet (Nerd Fitness).

Dietary protein, like all good things in life, varies wildly in quality. Ice Cream actually has a lot of protein, but you wouldn’t want to make a diet out of it. Well, you might want to, but you know can’t and maintain performance and/or any appearance standards. So what’s the short list of quality protein sources? Everything PETA screams about — chicken meat and eggs, beef, and pork are the three main staples used here in the Midwest. If you are in an area with fresh fish available, eat the hell out of it if you like it. If you don’t like it, grow up and learn to like it. Fish is ounce-per-ounce (only The Rock eats meat in pounds at a time) the best source of protein when you consider calories and fats. Fish has fats you need (don’t worry, Fat is the next part in this series). Eat animals. They are tasty and nutritious. If you are a vegetarian, honestly, find another blog. I don’t hold anything against you, but I don’t, currently, have the knowledge to help you. Some day I will.

So how much protein do you need a day? This is an ongoing debate among the health and fitness community. The Center for Disease Control says an adult female needs 46 grams a day and an adult male needs 56 grams per day (CDC). The CDC is definitely a credible source, but we have one problem: the CDC cares about survival, not performance. The 56 gram estimate is an absolute minimum for your body to function correctly. I’m looking for better than that. I’m looking for the amount of protein that will add muscle to your frame and increase your performance. For better or worse, we turn to a lot of Broscience on this point.

There are massively ranging estimates, as you can imagine, when you turn to bros for official numbers on anything, let alone science. The general trend in Broscience seems to be between one gram of protein per pound of lean body weight and one gram per pound of body weight. My body weight is in the neighborhood of 300 lbs. My lean body weight is in the neighborhood of 210 lbs. Depending on who you ask in the bro community, I should be eating either 210 grams of protein or 300 grams of protein daily.

There are more reputable sources who advocate along these two lines of thought. Eat to Perform is a website and company based around eating to fuel performance and workouts (hence, the name). They advocate eating one gram per pound (ETP), but they also state that larger individuals may want to consider lean mass instead. Two other reputable sources are Nerd Fitness and Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple, both are research based and very knowledgeable. Both of these two advise eating one gram per pound of lean body mass (Nerd Fitness, MDA). Which one is correct? I don’t know that one is better than the other. Depends on your goals. As law enforcement officers, we need to treat our bodies like athletes and both of these options are suitable. I personally follow the one gram per pound of lean body mass guideline. For now.

Since I’ve increased my protein intake, I recover from workouts faster, and I am noticeably stronger (though the my weight program obviously affects this). The main takeaway here is to track your protein and see what your daily intake is. If you have never used MyFitnessPal or any other tracker, don’t let it overwhelm you. Start slow. Just focus on protein for now, and we can work the other macros after we get protein under control.

Eat animals. Lift weights. Happy hunting.

Workout for May 23rd:

Murph–

  • Run one mile
  • 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 body squats (broken up as needed)
  • Run one mile

A reflection post on Murph and Memorial Day is coming right after this one.

Quote of the Day:

“I do what I do because it is the right thing to do. I am a warrior and, and it is the way of the warrior to fight superior odds” – Paul Watson.

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