Protein, Protein and More Protein to Manage Your Primal Brain

The following is a transcript of the “Protein, Protein and More Protein To Manage Your Primal Brain” video posted on YouTube.

Protein. The king of macronutrients.

You’ve probably heard that protein is important and even heard me say protein is essential for your weight loss journey. But today, I will tell you why protein is so important, particularly how to increase your protein intake to manage the two brains. Now, if you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say the two brains, you need to check out my previous videos to get yourself up to date; for everyone else…

Let’s get into it.

As a quick recap on the two brains, remember you have the primal brain, the apple pie-loving hedonist. Then you have the modern brain, which is your lazy, sleepy guy that tries to keep that primal brain in check, but ultimately that primal brain will constantly be pushing you to go for that apple pie.

Now, when it comes to managing these two brains, we want to get them to work with us or at least the best that we can, and heck, maybe even get them to work together in favour of our weight management journey. We’ve got a couple of goals for trying to manage these guys. We will focus on decreasing the signal from that primal brain for the following few videos. If we can decrease that signal telling you to eat that apple pie, well, then you are more likely to choose to have that apple instead of that apple pie. 

And the first way we will try to decrease that signal from the primal brain is by increasing your protein intake. Now, protein is essential because, well, first off, it is the king of macronutrients. So your body can convert protein into carbohydrates and sugars as needed. It can also take that protein and convert it into fats as it needs it. Proteins and amino acids, the components that makeup proteins, have a role in just about every cellular process within your body, everything from building muscle to building fat to regulating your immune system.

Further, protein has a couple of other roles in our weight management journey.

First, for our body to utilize the protein or take the protein from the food we eat, our body needs to burn a lot of energy to break those foods down and extract the amino acids and protein from your food. So if we’re using more energy to break down food and such, well, we’re going to be burning more calories. And burning more calories is generally a good thing. We need to ensure that the calories going in via food are less than those going out to lose weight.

The next thing that protein also does is that since it takes a lot of energy in general, it takes a lot of time to break down protein.  Protein often helps increase our satiety, giving us that feeling of fullness. And anybody that has eaten a high-protein diet can attest that you tend to be less hungry with a high-protein diet. 

The final thing is probably one of the most important aspects of protein.  It helps us not only build muscle tissue but also helps us to retain and maintain our current lean muscle tissue. And so not only are muscles sexy, but they are also vital because they are our main metabolic engine or metabolic rate. The less muscle you have, the lower your metabolic rate will be. 

The big question is, “How much protein should we take in?”

And I’m sure you’ve heard a variety of different markers or different levels that you should be eating at.  So what  I’m going to do is my best here to clarify that for you. So the absolute bare minimum amount of protein you should consume daily is 0.36 grams.  Every day, you should consume 0.36 grams per pound of body weight or 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. 

Whatever that comes out to be for you and your body weight, you need to realize that that is the minimum amount that is like the amount that you need to attain to prevent malnourishment. So as we say in the nutrition space, that’s the amount you need to survive, but not the amount that we need to thrive. And in reality, an ideal protein intake should be 0.64 to 0.9 grams per pound of body weight, 0.64 to 0.9 grams per pound of body weight or 1.4 to 2 grams per kilogram.

Both involve several numbers and calculations,, and I like to try and simplify things in the best way possible.

Depending on the weight you’re starting at, you can look at this formula in two ways. You can either go one gram per pound of your current body weight or 1 gram per pound of your goal body weight. So, for example, if you’re currently 150 pounds and you know you’ve got 10, 15, or 20 pounds of weight to lose, I recommend trying to go for that one gram per pound of your current body weight. So trying to get yourself up to that 150-gram mark of protein per day.

On the flip side, if you are 250 pounds right now and you want to lose 50 pounds, then 200 pounds would be your goal body weight.  You would calculate 200 lbs by 1 which would give you 200 of protein in this situation. 

A very important thing I want to highlight here is that these are targets. These are a point to aim at to try and hit daily. If you eat less than 80 grams or less than your daily or even minimum recommended amount, you will struggle to get that protein intake that high. So, keep it in mind as a target, but slowly work your way up to that. You don’t need to go from 50 grams of protein a day to 150 grams overnight. You are just not going to have a good time. 

For all the people, I’m sure, that are jumping up and down on their chairs and saying, what about your kidneys? What about your liver? Blah, blah, blah. What I can tell you is that if your kidneys are healthy, a high-protein diet is perfectly fine. There are no concerns and no issues. Studies have been done with massive amounts of protein being taken in daily, and there have been no indications of high-protein diets causing any damage.

In fact, in the studies with the amounts of protein that have been done, I would give you a gold star if you were consuming such high levels of protein like you are not even going to get close to what we have seen in the studies. And I assure you this goal body weight or one pound or one gram per pound of body weight targets aren’t get you anywhere near an extremely high protein diet. Now, as I said, it will be really hard to eat a high amount of protein. It is going to require a lot of planning and preparation. You’ll probably have to incorporate snacks, but again, you want to take this nice and slow.

To give you some perspective, 150 grams of protein is approximately four cooked chicken breasts, or five premier protein shakes, or ten cups of Greek yogurt. So it’s a lot of effing protein. For a more stepwise approach to how you can start incorporating more protein into your diet, I will give you a list of things you can work through. 

The first thing that I always recommend to people is to figure out how much protein you’re eating daily right now. Maybe you’re averaging approximately 60 grams of protein per day right now. I want you to look and say, How can I get ten more grams of protein daily? How can I get myself up to about 70 grams of protein? Then I want you to hit that 70-grams protein goal every day for one week. The next week, I want you to try to do 80 grams per day for a week, and so on, and so forth. 

It will be a lot of trial and error, but some simple things to start with right out the gate; we’d be looking at what you are currently eating for protein in your meals. If you say, having some kind of protein with dinner, maybe it’s like a chicken breast or a filet of fish or something like that. You’ve got your rice and veggies and all that wonderful good stuff; I want you to consider adding maybe another quarter or half of a chicken breast to your regular chicken breast you already eat. Or if you’re already having eggs or something in the morning, add a little bit more to get five grams and then do the same with whatever you’re having for lunch or maybe with one of your snacks.

You see, adding 10 grams of protein is much easier than trying to add 100 grams of protein. And then, as you get better, start looking for foods and combinations of things you can add to increase that total protein intake. And as a couple of pointers here, because people always ask me about it, plant proteins are fantastic; you should try to get more plants in. If you can combine things like edamame, legumes, and all the various types of plant protein, even things like tofu can be beneficial. 

Getting in protein shakes, protein bars, or other things is also perfectly okay. I have a protein shake every day, and it helps me because it’s quick, easy, and on the go. I’m generally busy at that time, but it allows me to reach my protein targets more easily.

Some pointers are here because you might feel some side effects and notice changes, and you need to be consistent with them. First, a higher protein diet might lead to bloating and constipation. These things will mitigate, but you should increase your fibre and water intake. Consider a fibre supplement like Metamucil or Benefiber.

The next thing here is that as you increase your protein intake and overall food volume, the number on the scale will go up. I know shocking, but I can promise you that this is okay. This is a part of the process, particularly if you feel more bloated. What’s ultimately happening is you’re full of more poop and, of course, water and stuff, but it’s not fat.

As for the other macronutrients, avoid getting caught up in the ratio of carbohydrates and fats, and balance those out to the best you can. Ultimately, whatever works for your general dietary patterns, protein is your focus. Get the protein first and let the carbs and the fat fall out wherever you want them to. And even when it comes to calories, I’ll talk about that in a future video (article)? as a calorie target to try and aim for. But right now, don’t get too caught up in the calories. Just focus on getting that protein in.

I can promise you that when you start hitting that 150 grams of protein a day, and if you are consuming good quality protein sources and eating more whole foods, you’ll probably be eating fewer calories overall. And, of course, how long do we need to do this to lose and manage weight? Well, I hate to break it to you, but this will be something you should do forever. The reason is that this will not only help with weight loss, but this is also going to help with your general health and well-being. It will help you be more active, feel stronger, feel better, and everything in between.

More protein will always have a ton of beneficial effects for you in the long term, outside of losing weight. In reality, we need to flip the script; we need to get away from this mentality when it comes to weight loss that we do something for a little while, and then we can just stop it. We need to start looking at things from the perspective of what is sustainable for the rest of our lives, something we can do in the long term because that will be the only way to maintain our health and weight.

So your goal this week is to get good at increasing your protein intake to become a protein eater if you will, and increasing that protein intake in your diet.  Getting to those higher and higher levels will help you drastically decrease that signal from the primal brain because your primal brain will be detecting that we’re nourished.

We’re getting the fuel and nutrients needed to build a healthy, strong body. So let’s decrease this signal, and we’re going to have less of a drive to have that apple pie, and instead, we might be okay with that apple.

So that is all things protein, and beautiful people get good at becoming protein eaters. And that is your step number one for this week on how to start managing the primal brain and the modern brain.

Ultimately, in the coming weeks, I will review the other aspects, tips, strategies, and stuff like that and how you can keep these guys at bay and get them to work for you on your weight management journey.

Until next time my friends. Always remember small tweaks lead to massive peaks.

Dr. Dan

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