Happy Functional Friday everyone 🥰❤️ in todays post we will be tackling the topic “am I eating enough protein?”.
If you’re new to my blog, I am Helen, a certified functional blood chemistry specialist and each week I will be making standard labs more accessible to you all 🙌🏻 to check out previous posts, just click on the functional Friday section of my blog!
As always, this is not medical advice, so please contact your health care provider if you feel unsure or want to implement major changes 👨🏻⚕️
Todays topic is all about protein, and we will be accessing if you may need to consider eating more animal protein based on two markers found on the Complete Metabolic Panel- creatinine and BUN!
Both creatinine and BUN are byproducts of protein metabolism, produced when the liver and kidney process amino acids.
When we consume protein, the liver metabolizes it into amino acids and the by-product ammonia. Ammonia is toxic and needs to be turned into urea, and then is sent to the kidneys to be excreted in the urine. Urea is called BUN (blood urea nitrogen) on blood work!
The functional range for BUN is 12-18 mg/dL
If your BUN falls below that range, it can be assumed you are not eating adequate protein to support your bodies needs.
Creatinine is a by product when created when muscles produce energy from creatine. It is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and excreted through the urine. Both humans and animals we consume store creatine, so people with low muscle mass or those who don’t consume enough animal protein will have low levels which is reflected by a low creatinine measure in the blood.
The functional range for creatinine is 0.7-1.1 mg/dL
Keep in mind that workout before a blood draw can falsely elevate your creatinine levels since you will be breaking down muscle (and creatine) for a brief time after you work out.
Additionally, those with a low muscle mass could be eating enough animal protein but their creatinine is just low since they don’t have much creatine stored in their tissues. If your BUN is in range, but your creatinine is on the lower end, and you’re a smaller person, it’s likely your protein intake is adequate: assess your diet and decide for yourself.
What can you do:
If both of your results are on the low end, it’s a good indication that you could benefit from increasing your intake of animal protein and seafood.
Try to aim for at least 0.8 g of animal protein per pound of ideal body weight. That’s usually about 1 pound of meat/eggs/fish a day for a woman and 1.5-2 pounds of meat/eggs/fish for men! I know it sounds like a lot but our bodies depend on proteins for so many processes.
Proteins are the backbones of our hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes and make up all of our tissues and structures. We need protein to thrive!
For those who cannot eat that much, supplementing with a high quality collagen, beef protein isolate, or bone broth protein powder is an excellent option to get in 20-25g of quality protein into your diet. We love to mix in a scoop of chocolate flavored collagen into our morning coffee to start the day off right 🙌🏻
You can also use collagen powder in soups and baked goods to increase your protein intake.
We are also a fan of essential amino acid supplements which are utilized to about 99% by our bodies. One serving is about as much as 4 ounces of chicken breast (about 25 g of protein) and can also be easily mixed into coffee or water. I take it daily and my muscle mass as increased substantially since! I love to use BodyHealth Perfect amino powder and you can save using my link.
Additionally, eating 3 solid meals rather than many small ones will help you achieve your protein goals. I try to aim for 35-40 g of protein for each meal in addition to my protein supplements. That’s easily done by eating 5-6 ounces of meat with lunch and dinner and a couple of eggs with some bacon or liverwurst for breakfast.
For those who can have dairy, plain Greek yogurt or cheese are also solid options.
High quality meat and seafood can be easily sourced online: you can check out my guide here:
It’s helpful to order in bulk since that’ll save some money and you’ll always have a healthy choice on hand.
We really love ground meats like bison, beef and chicken to make burgers, meatballs or quick meat and veggie pans 🤩
Whole chickens also make a great option, you can roast it and then use left overs for bowls and salads.
Canned fatty fish like mackerel, sardine and salmon can easily be thrown onto or turned into a salad. The possibilities are endless!
And of course the humble egg doesn’t only need to be the star of breakfast. Enjoy frittatas, egg cakes, baked avocado eggs, or deviled eggs with your favorite smoked salmon or other meat dish! When eating eggs alone, you should aim to eat 3-4 minimum to hit the protein goal.
If you’re eating enough but your markers are still low, it’s possible the problem is your digestion. It may be a good idea to supplement with a stomach acid and digestive enzyme to make sure you’re getting the nutrients your eating.
Lastly, if you have low muscle mass, this is a great opportunity to up your workout game and incorporate targeted strength training in addition to increased protein intake. Muscle is our longevity organ, and our goal should always be to add on to it 💪🏻