Protein Part 3: What do I eat?

We’ve gone through what protein is, and the importance of quality. What you’ve probably come away with: eat decent meat/animal products.


But this doesn’t work for everyone.


Some of you might be saying, “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice and make life easier if I could actually consume dairy.” Whether this is all in our heads or intentional elimination, intolerances seem to run ramped amongst our population. But we know that eggs, Greek yogurt, and cheese can all enhance the protein in our daily intake significantly.


For those of you suffering from intolerances or stomach discomfort with certain foods, I’m right there with ya. I understand how frustrating it can be with the uncertainty of how your body is going to respond to certain foods. Or having to dissect the food label down to the last ingredient label on everything you pick up at the store. Or asking the waiter to leave out the cheese on your order and getting a strange look because, “Who doesn’t eat cheese?” Trust me. I’m one of those people who would if she could. But, we must work with what we’ve been given.


I would like to note that you should be getting tested for those suspected intolerances or allergies. You are not a doctor. Self-diagnosing can be dangerous and you could be limiting your diet for no reason. A lot of people will cut dairy when it’s all in their head, or intentionally because the latest post they saw on Facebook claimed that dairy makes you fat. The internet is also not your doctor. See a professional.

Prior to around 2014, I didn’t used to have issues with dairy products or whey protein. We (my former dietitian and I) determined that my stomach distress is likely linked to having been extremely low-calorie and restrictive in variety with my diet. It is not uncommon for the body to reject foods that have been cut out for an extended period, particularly when dairy is reintroduced. I have had quite the roundabout with figuring out how to hit my protein intake. And as an active female, it’s a bit on the higher end.


Before, it was easy because whey protein isolate could knock out big chunks of my intake for the day. I used to be able to down protein shakes and bars like the next guy. Even if I still could, I’m not as drawn to it now knowing what I know regarding ingredients. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those artificial sweeteners and thickeners had a lot to do with what has messed my stomach up in the first place.

This also made me realize how I was relying on it too much.

So, all things considered, what do I do? Simply eat meat. Chicken, fish, seafood. Shocker. It’s that simple. I know that protein is important in my diet (and limited protein powder options anyways), I budget a good amount towards this so that I can meet those requirements and not compromise for lower quality. I hear the argument quite a bit that “meat is too expensive.” If that’s an issue for you, I suggest relying on a combination of meat/seafood and plant proteins, and having a quality protein powder to supplement with. Canned beans, lentils, and fish can be fairly inexpensive (especially in bulk) and protein powders can be found on sites like or for much lower prices than retail.


Personally, I choose to spend less on protein powders. Not only are vegan powders extremely un-tasty (I’ve tried SEVERAL), but they can also have quite a bit of compromising ingredients like whey does. If you cannot stand drinking protein powders, eating meat, or whatever it may be – don’t do it. Food is primarily fuel—you should eat what your body needs. But that doesn’t mean you force down a steak or gritty shakes with a sour look on your face. Or maybe the food itself doesn’t align with your values/beliefs.

This brings me to vegan and/or plant-based eating.  


It’s another thing to choose not to consume dairy or meat. This “diet” is on the rise and honestly, I can understand why. Who am I to tell someone not to eat more whole foods? That’s certainly not a terrible basis for your nutrition. I too am extremely skeptical of meat production in this country, which is why I stick to leaner cuts instead of red or processed meat, and buy organic and/or grass-fed. But please don’t use this method of eating to lose weight. Vegans and vegetarians make it a lifestyle for ethical reasons and/or health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.


Before this turns into an argument on animal rights or “meat does/doesn’t kill you” … how can people adequately meet protein needs without dairy or meat? Proteins from plants can be found in lentils, beans, tofu, hemp seeds, quinoa, hemp seeds, spirulina, nuts, nutritional yeast, etc. I don’t subscribe to this because while I love animals, I have personally seen the benefits of eating animal products and have read the research on this. As we discussed with protein types, plant proteins are lowest quality on the list. If you aren’t an athlete, this isn’t a huge issue. But for active individuals looking to sustain and build muscle, it has been shown that animal proteins are more effective. You would have to eat quite a lot of vegetables, quinoa, and beans for them to add up for those with high protein demands, but I’m not saying it doesn’t work, particularly for those with lower protein requirements. And if your stomach can handle all the fiber, more power to you. However, it is simply my opinion is that this kind of eating can reach excessive carb and fat levels (dependent on the individual) if you are not monitoring it closely.


Ultimately, how you get your protein and from where is your choice. For me I have found that listening to my own body and experimenting what works for me and my life has led to much more nutritional success and satisfaction than eating exactly how my friends do, this or that star athlete, or buying every protein supplement I see promoted on social media. Just like any decision in life, your plate might look a lot different from someone else’s.


By Kailan Kalina 

The meat and potatoes of protein quality Pt.2

So we’ve covered what protein is and why it is necessary. What many may not know is that the types of proteins available for consumption are not all the same. Protein quality is something that should be taken into consideration, especially if you are an athlete looking to enhance the results of your efforts by improving your nutrition. It is not merely an argument of protein from “real food” over protein supplements, although that will be addressed as well. The reasoning comes down to evaluating the protein source a little more scientifically. Don’t worry – again, we are going for as simple as possible here.

In science-y terms, protein quality is based on its ability to achieve metabolic actions – or how quickly it is digested, absorbed, and available to sustain muscle tissue. The amount of amino acids that are available in the source and how efficiently the body can digest, absorb, and use them will vary from source to source.

Paraphrased: not all protein is received by your body in the same way. The protein you consume from a hunk of pork will digest slower, and will contain a different amino acid profile compared to proteins found in soy, brown rice, or vegetables. Animal proteins are what we call a “complete” protein source, since they contain a superior amino acid profile. As we learned the last post, proteins in our food are how we consume those essential amino acids, which are necessary for function and growth, but cannot be made by the body.

Vegetable proteins, on the other hand, lack some essential amino acids depending on the vegetable in question. This means that ingesting the proper amount and combination of essential amino acids as a non-meat eater is possible, but these individuals should eat an assortment of veggies, legumes, and grains to form complete proteins that they are not getting from animal products.

The following is a classification of proteins from highest to lowest quality:

Whey > Egg > Chicken > Soy > Peanut > Brown Rice

Many people may not be as concerned with where their protein comes from, which is why protein quality should be a personal assessment. Every person has different protein demands based on their activity type/level, their age, health, and overall caloric demands. For athletes, it is important to note that animal proteins have been shown to have greater effects on lean body mass growth and protein synthesis. However, people do have concerns around animal protein consumption based on the saturated fat. I think the fact that people have been eating meat for years and years speaks for itself, but there’s something to be said for having a wide variety of protein sources and keeping your saturated fat intake in check, and your cholesterol too if high cholesterol is of hereditary concern. There are animal proteins that do not contain high amounts of saturated fat.

It could also relate to personal choices based on ethics, such as those who opt for a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Understandably, you may to abstain from meat products entirely for ethical reasons. While I am still a carnivore, I recognize that vegetable sources provide similar benefits to meat when you are combining them to equate for optimal amount of essential amino acids and simply achieving your protein requirements from a macronutrient standpoint. Vegetable-based diets will provide higher fiber and more phytochemicals (but keep an eye on fiber intake, as ‘more’ isn’t necessarily better).

Lastly, we can look at protein supplements and where they stack up. In my opinion, to each his own in this area. For myself, I generally find supplements to be a waste if you are eating a well-rounded diet. I do use a protein powder to fill in the gaps when I can’t reach my full protein requirement for the day. But the key with using supplements is the quality. A high-quality protein will be 80-90% protein ratio compared to other components. In addition, it will not be infused with junk and fillers: sucralose, guar gum, aspartame, any sort of artificial sweeteners and thickeners. The same goes for protein bars/snacks you’re using to fool yourself into thinking you’re eating dessert. These do nothing for you. If there are proteins sources out there that don’t have them, why wouldn’t you opt for those? Flavor and price, most likely. But again, this is where preference comes into play. Ultimately, whole foods trump manufactured products.

The takeaway message here is that higher quality proteins will have the best effects on muscle mass and overall health. Once again, we find ourselves in the position where we are equipped with the knowledge, but it doesn’t always apply to everyone, whether that be by choice or by physical limitations: “Well, what if I cannot tolerate eggs and whey?” I can speak from experience that this is a real struggle. I wouldn’t expect someone to chug whey, or scarf down steak & eggs if they didn’t like it or felt severe bodily discomforts and reactions to it.

Onward in the mission to solve our protein woes!


Authored by Kailan Kalina

#ProteinProblems : Part One

We all know that the internet is saturated with content on nutrition – and much of it still inconclusive and subject to opinion. Our good old friend protein is one such topic; the highly controversial macro-nutrient in terms of how much, when to consume, and which are the most optimal. You have the dense, scientific articles, the fluff pieces in mainstream magazines/websites, and the short and sweet (often opinionated and uneducated) posts on social media. Of course, some sources are far superior to others.

But in reality, we are more susceptible to the gimmicky, mainstream messages surrounding protein consumption. We like quick and convenient over long and heavy when it comes to reading, and the influx of conflicting information doesn’t help either.

Although scientific studies are the preferred reference material, I want to offer a bit more of a condensed explanation on protein that doesn’t make you want to give up and hit the red X in the corner of your screen, or force you to open to decipher the terminology. For some, the comprehensive knowledge is valuable and even fascinating, but I understand there are those who want the basics that are still extracted from truth. Not socially-accepted myths and fads. That is what we all NEED. 

So, what is protein? Why all the hype?

In short, protein molecules are made from amino acid chains, which are referred to as the building blocks for growing muscle tissues. Most amino acids we need to obtain through our food sources; these are called essential amino acids. Other nonessential amino acids are produced by our own bodies.

Protein is necessary for our bodies to produce enzymes, aid in hormone growth, function of neurotransmitters, and of course building muscle. If you’re an athlete or active individual, protein is crucial. This population will require more protein than the average sedentary person because their activity is tearing down muscle cells. Protein consumption helps repair this so that growth can occur and the muscle tissue can recover from hard exercise. Repair, Recover, Red meat, Repeat. Or an alternative to red meat…you get the idea.

Now comes the convoluted search for the answer to the proper amount of protein for you. The RDA for sedentary adults stands at 0.4 grams per pound of body weight. As mentioned before, this will differ drastically from someone who moves more or quite a bit more than that. Upper requirements for adults range from 0.8-0.9 grams per pound, and about the same for teenagers who are pursuing sports. This amount can vary person to person depending on their goals and the sport they participate in, but generally there is no need to exceed 1 gram per pound, which amongst the fitness community is a pretty standard go-to. Some will argue that protein requirements should be calculated off one’s lean body mass – the weight of your muscles, tendons, internal organs, bones, ligaments (or your total body weight minus body fat weight). However, this number and body fat percentage are not known by most individuals without consulting a medical professional. Therefore, calculating from total body weight makes it easier and still allows you adequate protein for sustaining and growing muscle.

Personally, I’ve seen females consumer super-high protein diets in order to keep themselves fuller for longer bouts of time, and use those calories to replace carbs they think they shouldn’t eat. Men typically consume large portions of protein with the mindset that more protein = more muscle, and this is not necessarily true. At a certain point, your body isn’t utilizing the excess protein for its specific purpose, and it is stored as fat to be burned off for energy. In this case, you might as well be allocating those calories to healthy carbohydrates.

While carbs are not in the spotlight here, it is important to remember that this macronutrient is crucial to not only athletes, but in brain function and a well-rounded diet for the general population. High-protein/low-carb diets can lead to depriving yourself of vital nutrients and inadequate fuel. And let’s be real – protein is expensive. I can’t imagine a person’s grocery bill who eats 200-250+ grams of protein per day. I have observed a lot of athletes realizing that they can see desirable results in body composition and performance with less than they had assumed. Personally, I stick to around 0.8-1.0g per pound.

Another observation I have made relates to protein supplements. Convenience of these is not lost on me, but the concoctions of protein “foods” using protein powder astounds me. Yes, I was once guilty. But in time I’ve seen how high-quality protein sources – organic meats, eggs, seafood, poultry – leave me more satisfied. All the protein pancakes, protein pop tarts, mug cakes sound great in theory but it’s hard when a stack of real, fluffy, not-gritty pancakes just cannot be topped (except with syrup). They also pair nicely with a side of egg whites, ham, or turkey bacon (hint hint).

Protein bars/cookies and five different tubs of protein powders that are less than quality. Packed with crap ingredients that are so far beyond foreign to your body, and still people wonder why they suffer from bloating and abnormal digestion. Xanthan gum, guar gum, sucralose are commonly added thickeners and sweeteners that are known to cause such stomach issues. If you ask any athlete or knowledgeable fitness persona, you will likely hear how much better their performance and energy levels are when they consume wholesome foods – protein included – over packaged products. In the long-run, convenience isn’t always worth it.

My intention with this series is to simplify and bring to your attention what protein does for you, but also what can be the most optimal for your health and your goals or lifestyle. In a world where there is massive pressure to do things in a meticulous way that follows a exclusive diet, this is the problem in itself, with multitudes of opinions, celebrities preaching their versions of “health,” and people losing their minds over the fact that there are still meat-eaters on this planet. I find it’s always best to go back to the researched basics and adjust based on your OWN body’s response and what you are trying to acheive.

So put down the Quest bar and stay tuned!


By Kailan Kalina




Leaving Dungeon Fitness

I'd be lying if I said I came to the decision easily, but after nearly eight months the time has come for me to leave Dungeon Fitness in all capacities effective June 1st, 2017.  I will still be there working with the handful of clients I have, as well as, helping those I work with during the June 17th U.S.P.A. powerlifting meet.

First and foremost, I'm truly grateful for all of the members and clients I worked with or interacted with on a near daily basis.  I consider a large amount of you my friends as I saw you day in and day out.  There was a lot that was accomplished in these eight short months including doubling the membership base.  

Keeping the negative aspects to a minimum, there was a number of small and a few very big issues that ultimately lead to my decision to leave.  As a co-owner, I could no longer operate in the dark on things that were rightly my information to know, and more importantly, why I was kept in the dark in the first place raised red flags on its own.  


What Now:

As I transition out of Dungeon Fitness, along with moving out my portion of equipment, I'll be aiming to open another facility (possibly two) in July or August of this year.  At the time of this writing, I've narrowed down my search to three potential locations to support having turf, weight room, and all the other amenities and services I would be bring on board.  The other facility will be located in Seattle proper.  I'm very excited for the progress that has already been made as well as for all the progress that can be made while remaking one of the premier facilities on the west coast.  

I take great pride in what was starting to be pieced together at Dungeon, and admittedly, borrowed heavily from the principles my friends at Eternia Athletics embodied.  As I disassemble the main cogs of Dungeon and open the new facility (to be named), I will strive to build a facility that will put what we had done to date to shame.  

Along the way it was forgotten, or potentially never was considered, that what we do should be about improving upon those in our community while doing things in an open and moral fashion.  There is no one who should walk through the doors and feel unwelcome, uneducated in their individual pursuits, or blatantly lied to about what's going on.  

I'm excited for the future, the partnerships already in place, along with the many that are forming as I move forward.  There is great things to come from the Platform Ready athletes and brand as we partner and branch out.  More to follow in the days to come....