Ryan Goodman Team Beef RunnerNo one eats a perfect diet. No food is perfect. However, food is fuel and we could all pay a little closer attention to what (and how much) we eat. This is especially true as I train and prepare for a busy 2016 race schedule that concludes as part of Team Beef at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. in October.

I honestly didn’t realize how much I ate, nevermind pay that close attention to the macronutrients I consumed, until I tried the 30-day Protein Challenge last year. I was gearing up for my first Half Marathon and had hit a plateau a month before the race. To be honest, I was surprised to see how often I under consumed calories and ate an imbalance of the major food nutrients – protein, fats, carbohydrates – my body needed to perform.

At the encouragement of a friend, I signed up for the Protein Challenge and tracked my daily beer food intake in a food journal (MyFitnessPal). Daily emails encouraged me with tips on how to track my food, pay attention to keep a good balance of those macros and how to meet my daily nutrient requirements. I learned about several different nutrient-dense foods that are high in protein, but hadn’t considered before.

After the 30 days, I walked away with a greater appreciation for how small swaps in food choices can make a big impact on my diet. Even though I’ve been raising cattle most of my life, I learned more about how protein can be an important source of nutrition to A) be healthier in general, and B) maintain strong muscles when training for longer distance running.

protein-challenge-graphic[1]During the past year, I’d definitely say I have made great strides of improvement. I now view 13 miles as a shorter distance for a Sunday run, and I’ve learned much more about the important role of having enough beef and protein in the diet, in balance with all the other important nutrients.

Compared to a year ago, I find myself in a different situation, now not consuming enough calories (darn lean beef!) for training upwards of 40 miles per week while preparing for a few marathons. So I decided to take the Protein Challenge once again and start entering my meals into a food journal. Everyone gets off track and needs a good refresher once in a while.

While everyone’s situation is different, be it the need for more/fewer calories or a smarter choice of proper nutrients, we can all benefit from paying closer attention to what we eat and making sure it balances with our needs. I’m not big on encouraging others to go on diets or rely on marketing labels to identify good food. But I can definitely support people making more balanced choices to improve your own health. Food is a personal decision. It’s interesting to see how much a difference can be made just by tracking your progress over 30 days.

This month, I encourage you to join me in taking the 30-day Protein Challenge. You’ll receive a daily email with quick tips to help you reach your goal, one small step at a time. This isn’t a beef commercial. The program focuses on many protein sources alongside beef dishes you may already know and love. Take it at your pace, track what you eat and see what the outcome may be! There is no deadline to sign up. The program starts when you enter. It’s free, so the only thing you have to lose is a few less-than-ideal food choices that weigh you down.

Click here to sign up for the 30 day Protein Challenge.

Click here to find the MyFitnessPal app and connect with me (AgProudRyan) so we can encourage each other’s progress. This synchronizes well with Fitbit, and you can connect with me (AgProudRyan) there too!

Click here to learn more about beef nutrition.

The 30 Day Protein Challenge is funded by the Beef Checkoff. My expenses for the Marine Corps Marathon and related Team Beef activities in D.C. are covered as part of the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative. As always, my thoughts are my own and I’m proud to be supported by programs I strongly believe in.

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