Protein is an essential part of a powerlifter’s diet, and for Meg Gallagher, a powerlifter and mother, it is non-negotiable. Not only does she want to maximize muscle gain for her fitness goals, but she is also concerned about maintaining strength as she ages. Seeing her grandmother struggle with osteoporosis, Meg understands the importance of strength training and wants to take all the necessary steps to prevent it.
To support muscle growth, Meg consumes about one gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass. This amounts to 130 grams of protein per day, a significant increase from the recommended daily allowance. Experts now agree that highly active individuals require more protein to support tissue growth.
However, achieving this protein intake isn’t as simple as consuming protein bars and whey shakes. Meg follows a purposefully planned diet that includes whole food protein sources, as well as nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, and starches. Women’s Health recently asked Meg to take them on a tour of her local grocery store to see what she buys to meet her fitness goals.
Meg shops once a week and plans her meals accordingly. She buys enough groceries to prepare quick breakfasts and lunches, as well as 2-3 home-cooked dinners. Meg usually makes four or more servings at a time, allowing her to have leftovers for lunch and dinner throughout the rest of the week. She also buys snacks to munch on throughout the day.
Her shopping trip starts in the produce aisle, where she focuses on fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables. Although she doesn’t count the small amounts of protein in fruits and vegetables towards her overall goal, she adds protein to her meals whenever possible. For example, she pairs avocado toast with an egg or adds grilled steak slices to her salad.
Next, Meg moves on to the meat section and buys versatile options like ground beef or chicken. She incorporates the ground meat into meals with vegetables and rice or adds it to pasta with sauce. She also stocks up on chicken and salmon, freezing the salmon for later use.
In the dairy aisle, Meg relies on dairy products to meet her protein goals. She prefers an ultra-filtered 2% milk from Fairlife because it contains more protein while filtering out lactose, carbs, and fats. She also buys fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs.
After gathering fresh ingredients, Meg explores the interior aisles of the store. Here, she looks for alternatives that add extra protein or nutrients. She chooses chickpea noodles or high-protein macaroni products and selects Dave’s Killer Bread, which contains 21 whole grains and seeds. She also gets jarred tomato sauce and black beans for specific dishes. Meg grabs olive oil for salad dressings and avocado oil for high-heat cooking.
Before finishing her shopping trip, Meg heads to the frozen food section for easy-to-prep bags of mixed vegetables and frozen fruits for breakfast smoothies.
Finally, Meg admits that she has a sweet tooth and enjoys protein bars like Alani Nu’s Rocky Road. However, she also keeps Chocolatey Krave cereal in the house for a quick and satisfying snack. Meg emphasizes that having cereal with milk adds additional protein to her diet and is a better choice than reaching for Oreos.
Overall, Meg’s grocery list is packed with protein-rich foods from all food groups. By carefully planning her diet and incorporating a variety of whole food sources, she ensures that she meets her fitness goals and maintains her strength for many years to come.