I had my annual physical a few weeks ago. I see a fabulous functional medicine M.D. and her nurse practitioner. Put simply, I love the care I get there.
They assess my weight, height, body fat, muscle mass and muscle mass distribution with this fancy-pants machine that I would name if I had any clue what it’s called. For two years in a row, my body’s percentage of muscle mass was on the low side. It hadn’t changed since last year, it’s just lower than average.
They, and I, are generally less concerned about data points and more concerned with changes over time, i.e., the data sets that emerge from my measurements and bloodwork, etc. But looking at my values, the nurse practitioner asked, “Are you eating enough protein?”
I reacted immediately. “Of course I get enough protein.” I mean, I eat meat or eggs at every meal. How could someone who essentially follows a Paleo/Primal template not be getting enough protein?
So she whipped out her pen and did some quick math. Based on my stats, I need about 72 grams of protein a day. “Do you think you get that?” she asked.
Again, I was really certain. “How could I not be getting that?” She nodded. “But, hey,” I added, “I’ll track my eating for a week or two just to make sure.”
You know the punchline, right?
Turns out, I have been under-eating protein. I’ve been missing that 72g per day mark by anywhere from ten to twenty grams. I’m going to keep tracking for a bit to make sure I have a better intuitive sense of my protein needs, but right now I have to be intentional and purposeful to get that amount in each day.
I tell my clients in class all the time that they need to rely on external markers as they move, because our sense of where our bodies are in space isn’t always accurate. I’m going to spend some time turning that advice my own way.
If you are interested in knowing roughly how much protein you need to consume, here is a calculator you can use. I only used it for protein and it aligned with what my nurse practitioner said, so I trust it for that macronutrient. I also really like that it asks detailed information, like whether you are lactating or pregnant, instead of just calculating a global number per body size.