Why we all need protein - the macronutrient that helps us kick goals*

Wednesday, 28 February 2018, By Isabelle Myers, Senior Personal Trainer Vision Personal Training Willoughby

Protein, the macronutrient that society finds troubling to get enough of each day! It makes sense.  It isn't always so readily available as something like a muesli bar or a banana bread is (which by the way is full of carbohydrates and fats!). However, protein is so important for fat loss and muscle gain!

Protein is a complex compound found in animal and vegetable foods worth 4 calories per gram. Protein from animal sources is of high value due to the provision of essential amino acids which the body cannot produce on its own, meaning we must get protein from our diet specifically every 3-5 hours to continue to repair and rebuild our muscle.

Protein is broken down into amino acids (products) by enzymes in the digestive system, which are then used to build up new proteins. The main goal for us all is to remain in an anabolic state, which means to build up muscle (consuming energy) opposed to a catabolic state, which is to break down muscle (releasing energy).

Adding protein to your diet increases calories-out due to the energy it requires to metabolise (known as the thermic effect: burning energy whilst metabolising) and decreases calories-in based on satiety.

There are 2 ways to identify types of proteins due to their amino acid content. "Complete Proteins" from all animal sources, which contain all (9) essential amino acids and "Incomplete Proteins" from all plant sources: lacking one or more essential amino acids or don't contain enough to re-synthesise essential tissues in the body (with the exception of soy). Vegetarians/vegans should combine grains and legumes in one meal or within a 24-hour period to obtain all amino acids.

Here's the good part, the benefits of protein include:

  • Essential for tissue repair and maintenance, muscle growth and assists with maintaining metabolism.

  • The more muscle you have/leaner you are - the easier it is to burn fat

  • Protein cannot be stored in the body, if it is not used it will be excreted.

  • Your daily protein number should be spread out over the course of your day - consume an even amount of protein at each meal.

  • Protein will keep you fuller for longer as it is harder to digest within the body.

Where can I find protein?

Meat, seafood, eggs, cottage cheese, protein supplementation (powder) Vegetarian options - beans, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds.

(Minimal fat contained)

  • Lean chicken - breast, mince (skinless options are best)

  • Lean turkey - mince, steaks, breast

  • Lean beef - mince, sizzle steak

  • Veal

  • Lean pork - loin, sizzle steak

  • Kangaroo - patties, sausages, meatballs

  • Venison

  • Deli meats - chicken, turkey, rare roast beef, ham

    (Fatty cuts)

  • Beef options (better choices - rump, sirloin, tenderloin, breast) (Fattier cuts - scotch, wagyu, thigh, belly) 
  • Lamb

Seafood (Minimal fat contained)

  • White fish - barramundi, basa, hoki

  • Prawns

  • Canned salmon, tuna - go for springwater (olive oil & flavoured tins contain more fats and carbs)

  • Oysters and mussels (Fattier options)

  • Salmon fillet

  • Sashimi

  • Trout


    Eggs & Dairy

  • Eggs

  • Egg whites

  • Greek yoghurt - high protein, low fat or no fat (flavoured options contain higher carbs) Brands like Chobani or Yo-Pro are a great option.

  • Bega so light tasty cheese (shredded or block)

  • Cottage Cheese

    Vegetarian Options

  • Pea protein
  • Beans
  • Legumes

  • Lentils

  • Nuts

  • Chickpea & lentil burger patties

  • Mushrooms

  • Tofu

  • Quorn

  • Tempeh

    Breakfast options:

    1. Chobani Greek yoghurt (No fat) with your choice of cereal or oats (watch the carb and fat content in cereals)
    2. Cottage cheese and protein powder mixed in with your oats
    3. Boiled eggs on toast - Option to add: avocado, smoked salmon, tomatoes etc.
    4. Egg white omelette with toast - Option to add: avocado, smoked salmon, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, mixed vegetables
    5. Lean chicken sausages on toast
    6. Protein smoothie - add berries for flavour + a hit of vitamin & minerals
    7. Pre-made mini quiches - good for on the go! Mix in veggies and bake in muffin trays. Keep in fridge for the week.
    8. Brekky wraps - barley wrap or mountain bread with eggs, lean bacon & high protein cheese + spinach

    Snack options:

    1. Cottage cheese mixed with protein powder on cruskits or corn thins 2. Lean deli meat on cruskits or corn thins with philly cheese spread
    3. Bega so light tasty cheese on cruskits/corn thins
    4. Protein shake (convenience option)
    5. Protein Bar (convenience option)

    Lunch options:

    1. Mince in lettuce cups - iceberg lettuce or cos lettuce filled with your choice of chicken, turkey, lean beef, kangaroo mince
    2. Make your own bruschetta mix without the bread (dice tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil, tsp minced garlic, dash olive oil & balsamic) with grilled chicken, steak, (add feta if feeling fancy)
    3. Spinach, roast pumpkin, beetroot & feta salad with any choice of meat tossed through - chicken or canned salmon/tuna
    4. Toasted deli meats and high protein cheese sandwich

    Dinner options:
    1. Stir-fry - strips of chicken, beef, lamb, prawns
    2. Vegetable stack: eggplant, zucchini, pumpkin, and capsicum with steak or fish
    3. Homemade pizza on mountain bread or barley wraps (your choice of diced meat - choose lean options, use protein cheese or go for normal shredded cheese if you have fats to spare)
    4. Mushroom burgers (use the large Portobello mushrooms) with a kangaroo pattie or make your own turkey/chicken/lean beef patties
    5. Sweet potato burgers (Slice sweet potato thick and use as a bun) with a kangaroo pattie or make your own turkey/chicken/lean beef patties
    6. Roasted mixed veggies (cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli) with parmesan sprinkled on top served with your choice of meat
    7. Stuffed eggplant or zucchinis with mince meat - use a low carb pasta sauce with your meat


Dessert options:

1. Beltsander brownie (high protein sweet tooth treat!!): in a container/small bowl mix
1 scoop of protein with 1⁄2 tsp baking powder, 5g cocoa powder, 50ml unsweetened almond milk - microwave for 30-60 seconds.
2. Chobani Greek yoghurt with ground cinnamon mixed through & blueberries
3. Blend yoghurt with strawberries and some gelatin, freeze and you have frozen yoghurt
4. Protein shake


** FLAVOUR your protein & veggies with fresh herbs and these other flavour ideas:

- Himalayan salt
- Mixed dried herbs

- Ground cinnamon - for sweet desserts, add to roasted pumpkin - Parmesan sprinkled on veggies
- Use almond flour, coconut flour to crumb chicken, fish and meats - Oyster sauce (in moderation)

- Soy sauce
- Hot sauce
- Queens Sugar-free maple syrup for your oats or to mix in with cottage cheese - good substitute for honey

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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