These days, it seems like everything is a “fitness hack.” We’ve heard them all – they’re either so obvious that you’ve come up with them on your own, or so trivial that they’re not worth doing.
Luckily, finding good fitness hacks is imperative to the Fitocracy team; it’s the only way we can keep up a busy lifestyle and still remain fit. Without further ado, here are 5 fitness hacks that don’t suck. Today’s theme: Protein.
1. 25g of cooked protein = a deck of cards
At a minimum, nutritionist Alan Aragon recommends that you consume 1g of protein per target body weight in pounds, as we’ve mentioned here. Eating this amount of protein will aid in satiety and help you build muscle. But how do you get this amount without preparing every meal on your own or pulling out a food scale in public?
Here’s an easy trick that will help you keep track: an amount of (cooked) meat the size of a deck of cards is equivalent to 25g of protein. That means, if you’re a 170 lb male who wants to get down to 150 lbs, you’ll need to consume “5 decks of cards” worth of cooked protein.
2. Get your BCAAs from egg whites
There’s a lot of evidence that BCAAs, in particular leucine, aids in muscle protein synthesis. Regularly taking BCAAs from supplements, however, can get a bit pricey. As it turns out, there’s a much cheaper alternative – getting your BCAAs from egg whites.
3. Keep meals Protein + Carbs or Protein + Fat
Many dieters have found success in following this heuristic: make most of your meals consist of “protein and fat” (e.g. steak and broccoli) or “protein and carbohydrates.” (e.g. chicken breast and brown rice)
Stated another way, make sure each meal is centered around protein and that you avoid mixing fat and carbohydrates for the most part. (This rule only applies to starchy carbohydrates, and not fibrous green vegetables like broccoli or spinach. Eat them as much as you please!)
Now, we’re not claiming that there’s anything magical that happens if you avoid mixing fat and carbohydrates. However, using this rule of thumb will frequently lead to healthier options. Think about it: most foods that are calorically dense and easy to overeat tend to combine fat and carbohydrates – pizza, ice cream, burgers.
By using this as a simple heuristic, you’ll eliminate many of these foods from your diet, while keeping protein high. Instead, you’ll find yourself eating satiating meals like chicken breast and brown rice or salmon and broccoli.
4. Create your own “extra lean” ground beef
Extra lean ground beef tends to be one of the more expensive sources of lean protein. Conversely, regular ol’ fatty ground beef runs pretty cheap in most grocery stores. What if I told you that you can turn one into the other?
As it turns out, researchers of the University of Iowa have discovered just that. If you’re looking for a cheap source of lean protein, give this method a try. Don’t forget to season your beef when you’re done rinsing it.
5. Protein on the go
Many people supplement with whey or casein protein. As a matter of practicality, however, it’s not the easiest thing to carry around. Luckily, protein is much easier to transport in cookie form. Try baking a week’s worth of these and bringing them around when you’re in a jam.