Protein (PRO) molecules are the building blocks of everything in our body. They are the most abundant macromolecule (a macromolecule is like a protein, carbohydrate or fat molecule) in our body, and we need protein to live. From an athletic standpoint, we need it to repair our muscles and support our lean body mass. From a health standpoint, it plays a role in everything else that our body does. It is essential for growth and life! If you actually care, check out THIS list for the full info on what PRO does in our bodies…


PRO can be found in most whole foods.  It is most abundant in lean meats, like chicken breast, turkey, and leaner cuts of beef.  However, protein can be found in other animal products, nuts, and seeds, and appears in trace amounts in many  other foods. With animal products, there will always be a ratio of PRO to FAT. This is more than ok, but know that the FAT is where the calories lie.

Calories are not bad.

When trying to figure out which foods should get the most of our attention, we want to balance the amount of nutrients with the number of calories. We can also look at this as prioritizing nutrient dense foods like lean meats, veggies, nuts and seeds, fruits, and starches while avoiding processed foods like packaged foods that come with a label. 

For PRO specifically, while a strip of bacon is protein based, it has a lot of FAT, which is where most of the calories will be. While you’ll get PRO, and you’ll also get a lot of FAT, relatively. Depending on your goals, you might want the calories. For most, and I mean 95% of people, you don’t need the additional calories. The nutrient dense foods will be all you need. For some people who are doing intense activity for 6-7+ hours per week with strenuous jobs, you might need those extra calories. Check with your coach to know for sure!

Every week, I load up on the PRO options I’ll want for my meals. It’s usually anywhere between 1-3 of these (listed below), and you can think of these as your “best” options to rotate through!

  • PROTEIN PRODUCTS – Grass-fed, free range, cage free, wild caught, organic  and free range are best
    • Beef, flank steak, lean
    • Beef, ground, 85%
    • Bacon (best bacon in town is at Ready Meats)
    • Chicken, Breast, free range
    • Eggs, cage free
    • Pork, shoulder
    • Turkey, breast, organic
    • Turkey, ground, organic
    • Salmon, wild caught
    • Ascent Protein Powder (we sell this at the gym)

In the next installment of this series, we’ll discuss healthy sources of fat!

Nick Gifford (CF-L3)
Nick Gifford (CF-L3)Author
Nick Gifford, Head Coach and Owner of Gifford Fitness, CrossFit Red Lion and Gifford Barbell has coached over 3000 athletes since 2012. He has worked with athletes from all walks and stages of life, focusing on health and wellness, balance, and pursuing excellence.