Protein Challenge Recap: An Unexpected Healthy Eating Hack

Before I took the 30 Day Protein Challenge, I used to say things like, “I can’t even count the times I’ve had beef jerky and black coffee for breakfast.” But thanks to journaling everything I ate last month on MyFitnessPal, I know it was six. Six times that I got on the road somewhere, probably with the kids and everything they need for an off-ranch day and fortunately I grabbed a bag from the cupboard on the sixth trip back into the house for sunglasses, sippy cups, extra shirts (it only takes bringing your got-carsick kid into childcare with a shirt of your own from the Goodwill bag to be prepared thereafter), etc. We are at least an hour from everywhere, and while I can say we are provisioned and punctual, something like my breakfast is most likely to fall off.

Photo May 01, 7 36 03 PM

Is jerky and coffee a balanced breakfast? Yeah no. But I can’t argue with the convenience and how chawing on just a couple pieces of this protein-packed goodie almost immediately solves what would be a long and hangry, caffeine-shaky ride.

Photo Mar 28, 9 12 03 AM

That is A LOT more like it (leftover beef and veggies heated in the same skillet as eggs, usually with a corn tortilla or something. I learned as I tracked my protein that I actually only need one egg with my beef to reach 25-30 grams no problem and I adjusted breakfasts accordingly).

As you’ve gathered, I’m a nothing/a piece of jerky is better than dry cereal (or pancakes for that matter) breakfast kind of person. That’s why I was skeptical about what I’d get out of this protein-focused challenge. But to my surprise, I actually had an AHA moment!

Photo Mar 28, 9 15 05 AM

By tracking my protein and calories, I noticed that I got where I needed to be with half of a breakfast like this (in full disclosure, this was the Saturday 11am at home brunch version, so I’m not mad about the bonus eggs and tortillas). This was a valuable learning, but not the big AHA! healthy eating life hack I’m referring to.

My big learning was that not only was my breakfast important to my breakfast, it was actually more important to my dinner than my actual dinner.

Wait, what?

Let me break it down.

My big healthy eating bugaboo is portions and second helpings, particularly at dinner. And I used to think it really came down to will power at dinner. But as I journal’ed my way through the challenge, I noticed that the only nights where I went overboard were the handful of days I didn’t get a solid 25-30 grams of protein at both breakfast and lunch (lunch matters too, but not usually the protein void culprit). AHA! Despite generally being a protein-a-vore, when I actually tracked it and achieved 25-30 grams each meal, it was a fix for my biggest healthy eating issue. Satiety and managing calories through adequate protein is a real thing that made a real difference!

I also lost two pounds without trying – in the same month RBII sort of unexpectedly disembarked the breastfeeding train for good (TMI, but this is important context!). And PS — leftover protein from dinner to jack up breakfasts and lunches becomes a regular reality when you don’t overeat at dinner (duh, I know, but I clearly needed the documented evidence to finally get right in this regard).

Photo May 01, 12 38 37 PM

This was probably my favorite Protein Challenge lunch creation. Leftover Greek-seasoned lean ground beef, chick peas and everything else in my fridge that coordinated. 32 grams of protein, ready in a couple minutes and it more than held me over until dinner.

And if I can add one other solid observation, it’s that the Protein Challenge seems different than other nutrition challenges or diets because of how easy it is to continue as an eating style. Whole 30 followers? Who among you hit that mac & cheese pretty hard on day 31? And I swear not a week goes by that I don’t see at least one Paleo Instagram account pine in visual for donuts. What did I have on day 31?

Photo May 04, 8 14 19 PM

A 30 gram plate of lean sirloin steak grilled with balsamic roasted brussels sprouts and mushrooms. Boom. Protein Challenge for the win!

Try the 30 Day Protein Challenge for yourself and let me know what you think!

Here’s an entire collection of Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner  Breakfast recipes. I’ve made, and love most of these. Beefy Sweet Potato Hash and Beef & Egg in a Mug are favs.

Related posts:

Protein Challenge: Update #1 (and well, the only one)

I’m taking the 30 Day Protein Challenge

After Baby Un-Diet with Chef Kirsten Helle

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