Trouble reaching macros (especially protein)

I recently adjusted my macros to focus more on fat and protein since I'm starting a new strength training program. My goal is 99 G protein, 183 g carbs, and 53 g fat. I'm vegan so it's obviously less easy to get protein, but I'm having much more trouble than I thought. I can't seem to reach my goals unless protein is my number one goal and the only thing I focus on. Since most foods seem to naturally have a higher amount of carbs, I don't even think about them.
For example, before, I would have fresh berries on top of my oatmeal. Now I feel like I'll be "wasting" calories on carbs that I would be eating later anyway and that I should mix in protein powder instead. Is this normal? Any tips?

Replies

  • AliceDark
    AliceDark Posts: 3,886 Member
    I'm not vegan but I am vegetarian, and I have to consciously prioritize protein in order to meet my goal, so I'd say that it's pretty normal. I took a quick peek through the past few days of your diary, and it looks like you're really relying on protein powder to meet your goal. Could you re-think how you approach your meals and try building them around a protein source to see if that helps? I'm seeing a lot of fruit, veg and cereal grains, but I'm not seeing things like brown rice, quinoa, legumes, or tofu/seitan/tempeh. (Not that the soy/seitan products are necessary, but they might help you reach your goals). The protein seems like an afterthought and not an integrated part of your meals and snacks.
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,763 Member
    Beans, soy products, and seitan are great sources of protein for vegans. Although vegetables and grains can help round it out, it's going to be a challenge to meet your needs with just those. @AliceDark has a good suggestion in building your meals around a higher source of protein and then adding carbohydrates and fat.

    So if breakfast is a struggle, consider a bean breakfast burrito or a tofu scramble. For lunch, you can have chickpea salad or chili. For dinner, baked tofu or a stew with seitan (these are suggestions based on my preferences).

    Once I began planning the protein first, everything got much easier for me.
  • navyjen
    navyjen Posts: 1,043 Member
    Do you drink coffee?? I mix protein powder with 3 oz of water first in a shaker bottle (other wise it clumps)then pour into my coffee. It helps me reach my protein goals easier and I don't have to add sweeteners to my coffee either.
  • jamieparadis20
    jamieparadis20 Posts: 129 Member
    AliceDark wrote: »
    I'm not vegan but I am vegetarian, and I have to consciously prioritize protein in order to meet my goal, so I'd say that it's pretty normal. I took a quick peek through the past few days of your diary, and it looks like you're really relying on protein powder to meet your goal. Could you re-think how you approach your meals and try building them around a protein source to see if that helps? I'm seeing a lot of fruit, veg and cereal grains, but I'm not seeing things like brown rice, quinoa, legumes, or tofu/seitan/tempeh. (Not that the soy/seitan products are necessary, but they might help you reach your goals). The protein seems like an afterthought and not an integrated part of your meals and snacks.

    It's actually such a coincidence but as I read this I was eating a bowl of tofu scramble for lunch! I haven't experimented with it much but today it was really good....and it has the same amount of protein for about half the cals of beans! Definitely going to have tofu more often and try tempeh.

    As for the protein powder, for awhile before I used mfp, I was vegan and not even thinking about macros and eating so little protein it worries me thinking about it now. So I got protein powder that I really like and is a good amount of calories for a lot of protein and clearly I've used it a lot. I was worried about relying on protein powder rather than natural sources so I posted a discussion but many people assured me that it was ok. I definitely see your point though and want to try to integrate it more naturally. Now I'm just worried about the calories honestly if I stop drinking it as much. Beans have 7 G protein in about 100 calories so for the same amount of protein I would need to eat three servings of beans which is more than double the cals in my powder. And beans and quinoa have more carbs than protein powder which I've been having too much of.

    Sorry this is long!
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,763 Member
    AliceDark wrote: »
    I'm not vegan but I am vegetarian, and I have to consciously prioritize protein in order to meet my goal, so I'd say that it's pretty normal. I took a quick peek through the past few days of your diary, and it looks like you're really relying on protein powder to meet your goal. Could you re-think how you approach your meals and try building them around a protein source to see if that helps? I'm seeing a lot of fruit, veg and cereal grains, but I'm not seeing things like brown rice, quinoa, legumes, or tofu/seitan/tempeh. (Not that the soy/seitan products are necessary, but they might help you reach your goals). The protein seems like an afterthought and not an integrated part of your meals and snacks.

    It's actually such a coincidence but as I read this I was eating a bowl of tofu scramble for lunch! I haven't experimented with it much but today it was really good....and it has the same amount of protein for about half the cals of beans! Definitely going to have tofu more often and try tempeh.

    As for the protein powder, for awhile before I used mfp, I was vegan and not even thinking about macros and eating so little protein it worries me thinking about it now. So I got protein powder that I really like and is a good amount of calories for a lot of protein and clearly I've used it a lot. I was worried about relying on protein powder rather than natural sources so I posted a discussion but many people assured me that it was ok. I definitely see your point though and want to try to integrate it more naturally. Now I'm just worried about the calories honestly if I stop drinking it as much. Beans have 7 G protein in about 100 calories so for the same amount of protein I would need to eat three servings of beans which is more than double the cals in my powder. And beans and quinoa have more carbs than protein powder which I've been having too much of.

    Sorry this is long!

    As long as you're not crowding out the fats and protein that you need, there's nothing wrong with having carbohydrates too. Sometimes we (as vegans) eat more carbohydrates because so many of our higher protein sources do include them. But seitan is pretty low carbohydrate if you're interested in checking that out.
  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
    I'm vegan, too, and I find that my protein is always hardest to get as well. I don't focus on macros as much, rather just the total number of calories. What I eat makes me feel good, and despite only getting about half of the amount of protein recommended by MFP, I've still put on muscle. My best friend is a dietitian (and she's also vegan), and she told me that it's almost impossible to not get enough protein as long as you're eating enough calories. You might not be hitting the RDA, but you certainly don't have to worry about atrophy.

    But, if it's protein you seek - I don't think there are any problems with your protein powder (what are you using, by the way?). In my opinion it's generally better to find it through whole foods like beans, quinoa, etc, but I love janejellyroll's suggestions of tofu scrambles, seitan, etc. I love making seitan BLTs and one serving of seitan bacon has 15g of protein, and is low-calorie. Add in tofu to your stir-frys, make quinoa taco meat, prepare tofu-ricotta stuffed shells or lasagna - it's so versatile and will really help you hit your goal number if that's the end-game for you! Good luck and enjoy!
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,763 Member
    kzooyogi wrote: »
    I'm vegan, too, and I find that my protein is always hardest to get as well. I don't focus on macros as much, rather just the total number of calories. What I eat makes me feel good, and despite only getting about half of the amount of protein recommended by MFP, I've still put on muscle. My best friend is a dietitian (and she's also vegan), and she told me that it's almost impossible to not get enough protein as long as you're eating enough calories. You might not be hitting the RDA, but you certainly don't have to worry about atrophy.

    But, if it's protein you seek - I don't think there are any problems with your protein powder (what are you using, by the way?). In my opinion it's generally better to find it through whole foods like beans, quinoa, etc, but I love janejellyroll's suggestions of tofu scrambles, seitan, etc. I love making seitan BLTs and one serving of seitan bacon has 15g of protein, and is low-calorie. Add in tofu to your stir-frys, make quinoa taco meat, prepare tofu-ricotta stuffed shells or lasagna - it's so versatile and will really help you hit your goal number if that's the end-game for you! Good luck and enjoy!

    If you're getting enough calories, you probably will get enough protein to be okay (but maybe not to feel and perform your best, depending on diet), but lysine is an amino acid that can be a concern for vegans who are eating rather low protein and getting most of it from vegetables and grains. Our best sources for it are beans (including soy), pumpkin seeds, seitan, and quinoa and I've noticed that when I'm not regularly eating beans or seitan my lysine consumption can get rather low (I track amino acid breakdown on another website).

    This, from the Vegan RD, explains it very well: http://veganhealth.org/articles/protein#lys

    From the article: "It is very hard to design a vegan diet that meets lysine requirements for a person who does not exercise daily without including legumes, seitan, quinoa, amaranth, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds without having too many calories. It is much easier to do for regular exercisers whose calorie requirements are higher - the low lysine foods will add up to provide enough."

    So not to be alarmist, but if a vegan is already at a deficit for weight loss, lysine is certainly something worth considering.
  • jamieparadis20
    jamieparadis20 Posts: 129 Member
    kzooyogi wrote: »
    I'm vegan, too, and I find that my protein is always hardest to get as well. I don't focus on macros as much, rather just the total number of calories. What I eat makes me feel good, and despite only getting about half of the amount of protein recommended by MFP, I've still put on muscle. My best friend is a dietitian (and she's also vegan), and she told me that it's almost impossible to not get enough protein as long as you're eating enough calories. You might not be hitting the RDA, but you certainly don't have to worry about atrophy.

    But, if it's protein you seek - I don't think there are any problems with your protein powder (what are you using, by the way?). In my opinion it's generally better to find it through whole foods like beans, quinoa, etc, but I love janejellyroll's suggestions of tofu scrambles, seitan, etc. I love making seitan BLTs and one serving of seitan bacon has 15g of protein, and is low-calorie. Add in tofu to your stir-frys, make quinoa taco meat, prepare tofu-ricotta stuffed shells or lasagna - it's so versatile and will really help you hit your goal number if that's the end-game for you! Good luck and enjoy!

    Mrm veggie protein in chocolate. I love it!! (Clearly from my diary haha). I've actually never heard of seitian...I'll look into it!
  • AliceDark
    AliceDark Posts: 3,886 Member
    As for the protein powder, for awhile before I used mfp, I was vegan and not even thinking about macros and eating so little protein it worries me thinking about it now. So I got protein powder that I really like and is a good amount of calories for a lot of protein and clearly I've used it a lot. I was worried about relying on protein powder rather than natural sources so I posted a discussion but many people assured me that it was ok. I definitely see your point though and want to try to integrate it more naturally. Now I'm just worried about the calories honestly if I stop drinking it as much. Beans have 7 G protein in about 100 calories so for the same amount of protein I would need to eat three servings of beans which is more than double the cals in my powder. And beans and quinoa have more carbs than protein powder which I've been having too much of.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with using protein powder as long as you tolerate it well and it doesn't upset your stomach. The only reason I'd recommend looking for other sources as well is that protein powder isn't the most satiating, so it doesn't fill you up terribly well. And also because you will eventually get sick of it, and if you rely on other protein sources as well that might not happen quite so quickly.

  • lady_ghost
    lady_ghost Posts: 175 Member
    Try vega protien shakes it's vegan and has 20-30 grams of protien per serving depending on which kind you get. I drink two of those shakes a day because even though I eat meat it's hard for me to reach my protien goals- also I hate cooking lol. But try those they are one of the best number the market and one of the most cleanest protien shakes out there. That and load up on legumes
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,756 Member
    AliceDark wrote: »
    As for the protein powder, for awhile before I used mfp, I was vegan and not even thinking about macros and eating so little protein it worries me thinking about it now. So I got protein powder that I really like and is a good amount of calories for a lot of protein and clearly I've used it a lot. I was worried about relying on protein powder rather than natural sources so I posted a discussion but many people assured me that it was ok. I definitely see your point though and want to try to integrate it more naturally. Now I'm just worried about the calories honestly if I stop drinking it as much. Beans have 7 G protein in about 100 calories so for the same amount of protein I would need to eat three servings of beans which is more than double the cals in my powder. And beans and quinoa have more carbs than protein powder which I've been having too much of.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with using protein powder as long as you tolerate it well and it doesn't upset your stomach. The only reason I'd recommend looking for other sources as well is that protein powder isn't the most satiating, so it doesn't fill you up terribly well. And also because you will eventually get sick of it, and if you rely on other protein sources as well that might not happen quite so quickly.

    Ya, I don't find protein powder alone the least bit satiating - I add fat and fiber.

  • jamieparadis20
    jamieparadis20 Posts: 129 Member
    lady_ghost wrote: »
    Try vega protien shakes it's vegan and has 20-30 grams of protien per serving depending on which kind you get. I drink two of those shakes a day because even though I eat meat it's hard for me to reach my protien goals- also I hate cooking lol. But try those they are one of the best number the market and one of the most cleanest protien shakes out there. That and load up on legumes

    I've tried vega but I couldn't stand the stevia taste. It's a shame they have so many delicious flavors:(
  • trigden1991
    trigden1991 Posts: 4,658 Member
    You don't NEED that much protein. Focus on hitting your calorie goal firstly and macros secondly.