30 Day Protein Challenge-Specific Questions
Q: Who should do the 30 Day Protein Challenge?
The 30 Day Protein Challenge is for anyone looking for a fun, step-by-step way to get an optimal amount of protein throughout the day. Significant research shows that people looking to lose or maintain a healthy weight, support a healthy metabolism and/or age more vibrantly may benefit from consuming a balanced amount of high-quality protein, within calorie goals.
Q: Why should I do the 30 Day Protein Challenge?
The 30 Day Protein Challenge can mean different things to different people. So whether you are seeking to maintain/build muscle, looking for weight/craving control or simply striving for better overall nutrition, the challenge is for you. Take control of your appetite and kick-start the benefits you’ll get from balancing your protein consumption. Learn more about the Benefits of Protein [infographic].
Q: What do I have to do to participate in the 30 Day Protein Challenge?
It’s simple: Work your way up to eat 30 grams of protein at every meal for one month. We’ve got an easy-to-follow Protein Challenge Plan to help you along the way. Sign up to receive daily emails containing tips, recipes, meal ideas and encouragement. Use the 30 Day Food Diary to keep track of your food, hunger and moods to see how simple diet changes can make a difference. And join in the conversation online by using the #ProteinChallenge hashtag.
Q: Do I need any special tools or trackers to participate?
You don’t need any tools or trackers to participate, but we do offer several to help you along the way as you take control of your appetite, including the 30 Day Protein Challenge Plan to guide you step-by-step throughout the month. We also encourage you to use the 30 Day Food Diary to track your protein intake and mood so you get a better understanding of how your meals affect you throughout the day. The Hunger Scale is another great resource to reference as you’re paying closer attention to your appetite. Finally, the Protein Cheat Sheet will help you identify how much protein you’re getting from a variety of popular protein sources.
Q: Do I have to fill out the food diary every day?
Nope. In fact, if you follow the 30 Day Protein Challenge Plan, you’ll see there are plenty of days that don’t involve any journaling. We created the Food Diary to help you track your meals to identify your daily protein intake and examine how the meals you eat make you feel. You can also use it to guide meal and snack choices to feel the positive benefits of eating more balanced protein for breakfast, lunch and dinner! We recommend logging your food intake throughout the whole challenge to identify when, what and why you’re eating and be able to note the differences you feel all month long.
Q: How do I find out how much protein is in my food?
Determining the amount of protein in your food is easy. You can always find the grams of protein in one serving of a food or drink on the Nutrition Facts Label featured on all packaged foods. Even if a food doesn’t have any protein, it will still be listed as “0g.” If the food or drink doesn’t have a Nutrition Facts Label, you can use our handy Protein Cheat Sheet or you can search for foods using a free calorie counter tool like My Fitness Pal or the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
Q: Where do high-protein snacks fall in the 30 Day Protein Challenge?
Depending on your goals for the challenge, snacks can still be a part of your daily eating plan. Gauge your hunger (using the hunger scale) between meals to determine if you need a protein-rich snack, like yogurt or nuts, that fits within your calorie needs. See more snack ideas here.
Q: How do I use the Hunger Scale?
To use the Hunger Scale, rate your hunger level before you eat and again when you are finished eating. If you do this each time you eat, you will become more familiar with how hungry or full you really are. This scale will help you move away from using your head to decide when to eat and towards listening to your body.
Q: Can I still do the 30 Day Protein Challenge if I’m gluten-free/vegan/vegetarian?
Absolutely! Since gluten is found in wheat and wheat products, you should have no trouble balancing your protein intake while still following a gluten-free diet. Vegetarians can also participate in the Protein Challenge – depending on what type of vegetarian diet you follow, you might be comfortable consuming more protein from high-quality animal sources of protein such as dairy, eggs and fish. Vegans can also participate in the Protein Challenge but should take care to consume complementary proteins at each meal to ensure maximum absorption of the essential amino acids from plant sources of protein.
Q: What happens after the 30 days are over?
Keep going! We hope that after the 30 days are over, you’ll recognize a difference in how you feel and find it much easier to balance your protein intake without the step-by-step plan. Continue to eat protein-rich meals throughout the day to feel fuller longer and take control of your appetite!
Q: Why focus on protein specifically?
For some time, researchers have known that there are health and wellness benefits to consuming protein in balanced amounts at each meal. Significant research shows that some people can lose and maintain a healthy weight, support a healthy metabolism and age more vibrantly when they consume more high-quality protein, within calorie goals. Check out more on the Benefits of Protein [infographic].
Q: What are the health benefits of adequate or higher protein intake?
Some of the more remarkable benefits of distributing protein throughout the day include feeling satisfied after a protein-packed meal, which helps reduce mindless snacking. Additionally, meals with high-quality protein help to build muscle and reduce body fat. Check out more on the Benefits of Protein [infographic].
Q: How much protein should I be eating daily?
The latest research on protein suggests that consuming 25-30g of high quality protein at each meal is the optimal amount, which is why the Protein Challenge focuses on helping you move towards 25-30g per meal. If you’re interested in determining your protein needs based on your age, height, weight, gender, physical activity level and desired percentage of calories from protein, check out our Protein Calculator.
Q: Why should I space out my protein intake throughout the day?
For some time, research has shown that there may be health and wellness benefits to consuming protein in balanced amounts at each meal. New research shows spreading protein intake evenly throughout the day can help achieve health and wellness, so aim for 25-30g of protein at each meal for ultimate body benefits.
Q: I can’t eat that much for breakfast. Can’t I just have a few smaller meals/snacks in the morning?
Yes. The Protein Challenge is meant to help you find what works best for your diet, routine and hunger. If you prefer to snack in the morning instead of having one regular meal, consider protein-based snacks, such as Greek yogurt with berries and then a handful of almonds and a string cheese a few hours later. Then, continue your day striving for 25-30 grams of protein at lunch and dinner. See more snack ideas here.
Q: What are some good sources of protein?
Beef is an excellent source of protein (20% or more of the Daily Value). Other excellent sources include chicken, pork, fish, turkey and shellfish. Good sources of protein (10% to 19% of the Daily Value) include eggs, milk, low-fat cheese, yogurt, quinoa, tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, nut butters and oats. For maximum absorption of plant sources of protein, try to eat “complementary” proteins at the same meal to make sure you’re getting all the essential amino acids. For example, eating red beans and rice together or a peanut butter sandwich can provide all of the essential amino acids.
Q: Is there a significant difference between sources of protein?
In short, yes. High-quality proteins, such as all animal sources (lean beef, other meats, eggs, dairy) and a few plant sources (soy, quinoa), contain all of the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own. These animal sources of protein also have the highest biological value, which means they are most easily and efficiently digested and absorbed in the body.
Q: What if I don’t eat meat – can I still get enough protein?
Yes. Depending on what type of vegetarian diet you follow, you might be comfortable consuming more protein from high value animal sources of protein such as dairy, eggs and fish. Vegans can also get enough protein but should take care to consume complementary proteins at each meal to ensure maximum absorption of the essential amino acids from plant sources of protein. For example, eating red beans and rice together or a peanut butter sandwich provides all the essential amino acids.
Q: Is it true that high protein diets can have negative health effects – like kidney damage or bone loss?
No, this is a common myth about protein. All the latest research on protein and higher protein diets indicate that eating 25-30g of protein at each meal is ideal for ultimate body benefits. In fact, eating a diet higher in protein, within calorie goals, can help people lose and maintain a healthy weight, support a healthy metabolism and age more vibrantly.
Q: What nutritional benefits does beef offer me that other proteins don’t?
Beef gives your body more of the nutrients it needs. Lean beef is an excellent source of six essential nutrients (protein, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin and selenium) and a good source of four essential nutrients (phosphorous, choline, iron and riboflavin). A 3-oz serving of lean beef provides 154 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat, on average. Check out more of beef’s nutrition benefits here and here.
Q: What does lean beef mean?
According to USDA, “lean” means that 100 grams of beef (about 3.5 oz) has less than 10 g of total fat, 4.5g or less of saturated fat and less than 95mg of cholesterol. More than 66% of beef cuts sold at retail meet government standards for lean, and 17 of the top 25 most popular cuts of beef are lean. Some popular lean cuts of beef include Strip Steak, Flank Steak and Tenderloin.
Q: Will I be expected to eat beef every day?
The Protein Challenge is completely customizable and can include an array of protein sources – from animal proteins, such as lean beef and dairy to beans, grains and nuts and seeds. Lean beef is an excellent protein choice and also provides 10 essential nutrients for about 150 calories per 3 oz serving. Plus, beef is extremely versatile – numerous cuts can help you create different dishes throughout the day. Check out these beef recipes for inspiration.
Q: Is it difficult to find lean cuts of beef at the store?
More than 66% of beef cuts sold at retail meet government standards for lean, and 17 of the top 25 most popular cuts of beef are lean. Among these are the popular and widely consumed Sirloin Steak and Tenderloin. Visit our Interactive Butcher Counter or talk to the butcher at your local store to learn more about lean cuts of beef.
Q: What does 30 grams of beef protein look like?
A single serving of beef (3oz) is about the size of an iPhone or deck of cards and provides 25 grams of protein and 10 essential nutrients in one tasty package.
Food and Lifestyle Questions
Q: What are some easy ways to increase protein at each meal?
There are many easy ways to balance protein at every meal, within calorie goals, such as including nuts with your breakfast or afternoon snack, or topping your lunchtime salad with beef, salmon or pork. Many people lack protein at breakfast, but can easily get more by adding milk to their regular oatmeal, pre-cooked Ground Beef to scrambled eggs or switching from regular yogurt to Greek yogurt. You can find more simple tips for adding more protein at every meal here.
Q: Can I still prepare meals for my whole family when I take the 30 Day Protein Challenge?
Yes, you can easily prepare family meals while you participate in the 30 Day Protein Challenge. There are many varieties of protein to choose from – meat, such as beef, eggs, nuts, dairy, fish, beans and even grains – so your family will never feel bored or like they are on a restricted diet. You can find delicious beef recipes the whole family will enjoy at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.
Q: Can I snack as I normally do during the 30 Day Protein Challenge?
The 30 Day Protein Challenge is a way to incorporate more nutrition into your lifestyle, not restrict or drastically change your diet. You can snack during the Protein Challenge, but should consider protein-based snacks, such as nuts or yogurt, and remember to stick within your calorie goals. You can find some suggestions for getting protein on-the-go here.
Q: What are some tips to prep higher-protein meals in advance?
Prepping meals in advance is a smart way to ensure you and your family eat healthy, even when you’re pressed for time. Set aside some time on a weekend to prepare freezer meals that you can cook later to have a fresh, hot and nutritious meal on the table easily and quickly. Or when preparing your favorite Ground Beef dishes, cook some extra to keep in the fridge so you can easily add beef crumbles to breakfast the next day. Check out Pinterest for freezer meal inspiration.
Q: What are some meal planning tips for the 30 Day Protein Challenge?
During the 30 Day Protein Challenge, you can plan your meals as usual, just keeping in mind that your protein intake should reflect the Protein Challenge Plan. Keep the Protein Cheat Sheet handy while you’re flipping through grocery store circulars, browsing Pinterest or consulting your favorite blogs and cookbooks so you can choose recipes that will incorporate the recommended amount of protein.
Q: What should I put on my grocery list to prepare for the 30 Day Protein Challenge?
Your grocery list for the 30 Day Protein Challenge should include your usual delicious foods, but will probably include more protein-packed items than you may be used to stocking up on. Keep the Protein Cheat Sheet handy while you’re flipping through grocery store circulars, browsing Pinterest or consulting your favorite blogs and cookbooks so you can choose and shop for recipes with ingredients that will incorporate the recommended amount of protein.
Q: Can I still go out to eat while I’m doing the 30 Day Protein Challenge, or do I have to cook all my meals at home?
You can absolutely go out to eat while you’re doing the 30 Day Protein Challenge! Look for lean protein entrees on the menu and keep in mind grilled, broiled and baked are often better options than fried. If you choose an entrée salad, add a lean protein whether it’s for lunch or dinner. A 3-oz serving of lean beef usually provides around 25 grams of protein. You can find more helpful tips for getting protein while dining out, including a list of high-protein menu items from popular fast food and fast casual restaurants here.
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