Eating Healthy: Why do I need protein and how much do I need?

Happy Transformation Thursday! It is my privilege to introduce you to my good friend and our next guest blogger: Hayley Schwartz. Hayley will be guest blogging from time to time to help us better understand what a healthy, nutritious diet consists of and she will be giving us some sample recipes to try.

Hayley Schwartz works at Health by Design in San Antonio, Texas in the Health and Nutritional Coaching Department. Her group works with patients to get healthy through lifestyle and eating changes verses medicine. Her program offers education on nutrition, insulin resistance education and tobacco dependency. She served as the Nutrition Coach at My Fit Foods in San Antonio for two years before joining Health by Design.

Hayley was also a faculty member in the Kinesiology Department at Dallas Baptist University, The University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, as well as San Antonio College teaching health, wellness and physical conditioning courses. She is married and has two kids, 2 and 10 months and loves to exercise and explore new recipes. She just ran her first half-marathon this month and will start training for her next in the Spring. Hayley also runs the Instagram for her office, which posts healthy eating and lifestyle tips. Follow her at: OurDailyFit. Recipe ideas are posted to her snapchat: hayleyjschwartz.

Eating Healthy:

You need to lose weight. It seems so simple, yet it can be one of the most challenging things to accomplish. Whether its two pounds or 25 pounds, not being equipped with the proper knowledge can create barriers. There are a lot of common misconceptions when it comes to getting healthy and losing weight.

Cutting calories and increasing exercise will produce results, but what else can you do to get to where you want to be? Speaking of exercise, did you know food intake has a greater impact on weight loss that exercise? Food choice is 80% of weight loss, exercise is the other 20%.

You can’t out train a bad diet, so look to make healthy changes along with your exercise routine. Don’t rely on the classic low-calorie microwave meals. They’re usually high in sodium and low in protein. Learn how to really understand what your body needs for the best success. When looking to understand nutrition, breaking it down into its components is how I learned best. While there are a handful of different components, mastering them in steps in best. Let’s start with protein.


Understanding how much protein you need in a day in order to make body composition changes is key. If you are comfortable with your body weight and overall muscle tone then you need to dedicate just 10% of your daily calorie intake to protein. Example, a 1700 calorie/day diet x .10 = 170 calories/4 calories per gram (for protein). 170/4 = 42.5 grams of protein per day. 20% of calories from protein if you are looking to change your body composition (fat loss or muscle gain). Example, 1700 cals/day x .20 =340/4 = 85 grams of protein per day. 30% calories from protein if you are insulin resistant or diabetic. 1700 cals/day x .30 = 510/4 = 127.5 grams per day.

Confused? I found it easiest to track what I was eating so I didn’t have to do the math in my head. I use the app MyFitnessPal to track everything I eat so I know what my goals are. Not interested in tracking food? Learn to read food labels and keep track mentally of what you are eating, so you know where you are throughout the day.

Also, understanding where you can find protein in your day can be a huge help. I try to include 1 oz. of nuts daily (contains 7g of protein), 1 cup of legumes daily (each ½ cup of beans contains 7g of protein), and fish three times a week. I also eat a lot of hummus with carrot sticks and plain Greek yogurt (1 cup of Greek yogurt = 21 grams of protein). Dairy is also a good source of protein depending on the source. I started to see dramatic changes in my body once I understood how much protein I needed and how I could meet my goal. I also try to stay away from anything artificial (no protein drinks). I have found that eating and drinking the cleanest ingredients has made me my healthiest self to date.

After my second baby, I was determined to get into great shape and improve my health. Eating healthy had always been a priority, but I never took the time to educate myself about what I actually needed to do. The key to my success was getting into a routine, and really learning and putting into practice what I needed to do to reach my goals. I started to understand portion control and weighed everything I needed to eat on a food scale and tracked everything I ate in order to see what I was eating. Those things are second nature to me now because I took the time to make them a habit. On top of managing the little boys, I work, and teach a couple online courses for Dallas Baptist University. It’s HARD WORK to eat healthy and stay in a good exercise routine with everything going on, but I know that if I am not physically and mentally healthy, everything else in my life could suffer, including my family life. Speaking from a holistic approach, I am currently at my best place physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Making changes from the inside out has allowed me to be the most successful in every area of my life and function at the highest level possible.

Here are a few things I did in order to make the change…

First, start small. Take the easiest meal you have each day and turn that into a healthy option. I started with my daily snacks. Two small meals a day that I was able to pre-pack at the beginning of the week and take to work. After snacks came lunch, because along with snacks I could prep at the beginning of the week. Dinner was third, I made it a goal to learn and master one new recipe a week. There is nothing wrong with repetition, so find something you love and keep making it! Breakfast was last because I not only make breakfast for myself, but I prepare it for my 2 year old. I make him what I eat so I don’t worry about making two separate meals. Not only does that save time, but I am teaching my kids healthy habits. If time seems to be a constraint then make arrangements to get up a little earlier or prep what you need the night before. Pretty soon your day will be filled with healthy options! Second, don’t restrict yourself from things you want. It’s a marathon not a sprint. If you cut yourself off from things you have enjoyed in the past you run the risk of eventually failing. Moderation is key. Last, extend yourself some grace, especially if you aren’t making as much progress as quickly as you would like. Change takes time and learning new habits isn’t always easy.

I started with protein because it has a huge impact on body composition changes. My next post will be on incorporating at least four vegetables a day into your diet. When these two things are mastered, you will start to see great results. Below is a great recipe that includes some great protein and vegetables. Its delicious and incredibly easy to make.

our daily fit, dallas blogger, fleurdille

Black Bean Hummus and Zucchini Tacos

Corn Tortilla

1 Zucchini

1 tbs. Black Bean Hummus



Green Onions (1TBS).

½ avocado (cubed or sliced)

1 tbs. extra light olive oil


Spiralize zucchini or use a vegetable peeler to make thin strips of zucchini. In a small skillet, warm 1 Tbs. olive oil, sauté the zucchini with a handful of sliced chives, garlic and green onions. While the zucchini is cooking, heat the tortillas in the microwave. Spread 1 TBS. black bean hummus on each tortilla. When the zucchini, chives, green onion and garlic are cooked, divide evenly on tortillas, add avocado to the top. A whole zucchini can make 4-6 tacos. ENJOY!


My next post will be about incorporating the proper number of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. Vegetables for breakfast? Absolutely! Until then…happy eating!

To see healthy recipe and lifestyle posts, follow Hayley on snapchat, username: hayleyjschwartz and Instagram: OurDailyFit.


xx – hayley & anna