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If you have been following my T25 workout diaries, you will know that I spent the Alpha phase eating lightly but not necessarily healthily. I saw progress in my body and muscular definition but decided to experiment with a high protein diet in my Beta phase.
Protein is great for your muscles (especially when you are working out) because it sends them fuel, allows them to repair faster, and helps to maintain the tissues. A common misconception is that protein is used to get “jacked” and while it can help with that, it doesn’t have to. Protein helps to increase fat burning in the body, allow you to feel fuller for longer periods of time (and on less food), and helps increase energy. Ladies, I am not looking to become a bodybuilder – that’s just not my style – but protein is something I am incorporating as a “test” during this phase. I am a see-for-myself type of person so I am curious to see if my body transforms even more than it did in the Alpha phase, and, if I think the high protein intake is a factor in that.
I’m not a person who likes to follow meal plans, cook every night, or have to worry about meal prep for the week. So, upon starting Beta, I stocked my kitchen with protein and made some diet rules:
- Eat when you’re hungry.
- Eat as much as you need to feel satisfied but not stuffed.
- Always drink a glass of water, black coffee, unsweetened tea or no more than 8 oz of milk before having a meal.
- Stick to high protein foods, vegetables, and fruits.
Pretty simple and straightforward, right? Now, my protein sources consist of things like:
- Greek Yogurt – I like Chobani brand the best because it doesn’t have the thick texture of most Greek yogurts and the Vanilla flavor is the bomb.
- Chocolate Milk – You could do regular milk as well, but a small glass of chocolate milk satisfied my sweet tooth. If you prefer, almond milk and soy milk are also great protein sources.
- Cottage Cheese – Don’t get anything in this diet that says fat-free/low-fat. There are studies that show low-fat/fat-free foods actually make your body hold on to more fat, rather than get rid of it. Stick to the good stuff.
- Lunch Meat – Super easy to cut with some scissors and toss on a salad. Choose the turkey/chicken option.
- Turkey/Chicken – Did I just mention these? 😉 You can get these birds and cook ’em up!
- Peanut Butter – Such a great snack to have with celery or a banana! I’m guilty of eating out of the jar as well but watch your intake!
- Sunflower Seeds – I used a sprinkle of these (unsalted) as a salad topper. High in protein and a tasty crunch!
- Beans and Eggs – I didn’t eat these things but they’re a fantastic source as well!
Now, these foods aren’t necessarily high in protein but they are great snacks that are good for you.
- Frozen Fruit – Easy to get year round and already prepped for you! I like things like peaches, blueberries, or raspberries. Try not to get the kind with extra sugar added. The ingredients should be fruit and fruit only. Also avoid the fruit in cans as they are often loaded with extra things you don’t need…like preservatives and syrup.
- Frozen Veggies – I’m a sucker for a frozen sugar snap pea! I also got frozen edamame from Seapoint Farms that is pre-portioned and ready to put in the microwave. Not only a great snack but a great protein source as well! If you prefer dried edamame, Seapoint Farms has that too!
- Apples and Bananas – These are fruits that keep me full for a while, and while bananas may be high in sugar, it’s natural so I figure it can’t be all that bad for you.
- Dried Fruit – I like things like coconut strips, dried bananas, dried mangoes, or dried pineapple. The best kinds for you have the least amount of ingredients like preservatives and sugars. I recommend products from Vitacost, Made in Nature, or Bella Viva Orchards. Organic Living Superfoods looks to have a lot of healthy options as well, however, I have not tried their products personally. If you don’t want to order online, Natures Harvest has a great variety as well and can be found at Walmart – their fried plantains literally taste like potato chips. YES.
- Dehydrated Vegetables – Now, this one isn’t as great for you but it is a better alternative to chips. I get the Calbee brand of dehydrated peas from Walmart that satisfy my urge for something crunchy and come at a low calorie (and price) punch. They sound strange, but they come in many flavors and are actually quite tasty!
- Nuts – Great source of protein but be sure to monitor your intake as they are high in calories.
Foods I avoided:
- Breads/Pastas – Other carbs that were from things like vegetables I didn’t restrict.
- Soda/Juice – Juice is okay if it’s a homemade fresh fruit smoothie but even that can be really high in natural sugar.
- Anything with preservatives (canned items, crackers, food in sealed containers, etc.)
That’s it! Make whatever you want with high protein foods and feel free to snack throughout the day. I still allowed myself to have some condiments or a “cheat treat” here and there. I don’t like diets that don’t let you have a little fun!
If this is something you’d like to try, feel free to adapt it to your lifestyle but try to limit the bad-for you things to once a week at most. Sometimes one single bite is all you need to satisfy the craving. As soon as I finish my Beta phase I will be sure to let you know how this worked for me!