BONUS XOMU: How I eat 120g of protein a day
Take a spin through a day's worth of high-protein meals and snacks
One thing you should know about me is that I can f*** with food. I can track macros or calories, deliberately adjust my protein or carbs up or down, and take on different dietary self-experiments in the name of health and performance without spinning out into an unhealthy relationship with food. If this is not your context, or if your mental health would be served by not spending five minutes reading about protein, consider skipping this article—I won’t take it personally.
Over the years, I’ve worked with two performance diet coaches (RDs and PhDs in nutrition) to dial in my diet specifically to improve my hiking. The first time (summer 2017) I discovered that I needed way more carbs than I was eating, and how incredibly tolerant I am to high amounts of carbohydrates. I hiked faster and longer than ever that summer, and never considered a low-carb approach again.
The last time (2020), I realized that what I thought was “enough protein” just… wasn’t. When I began tracking my intake at my coach’s request, it turns out I was only eating around 90 grams a day. That isn’t bad, but wasn’t as much as he thought I needed. I made an effort to track everything I ate for a month, focusing on getting my protein up to 120-ish grams a day—and felt SO much better. Cravings disappeared, it was easier for me to hold onto strength gains, and (again) my hiking improved.
Bro math! I’m not aiming for 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, which is a common bro-protein recommendation. I discovered that purposefully trying to eat more than 120 grams or so made me feel awful, so that’s my sweet spot.
It’s not easy to eat that much protein in a day without resorting to shakes or processed snack bars. Listen, I have nothing against those things. I’ve used Form plant-based protein shakes when I’m on the go or just can’t stomach a meal, and RXBARs when I’m traveling or hiking. But I wanted to see whether I could focus on everyday, whole-foods-based choices and still hit my protein goals.
Here are my secret weapons for high-protein meals and snacks.