Why You Should Eat More Protein

Why You Should Eat More Protein

Hey POPsters!

So what’s all the hype about protein and why are fitness fanatics and health freaks all about it?

Well, off the bat:

  • It keeps you fuller longer
  • It’s the building blocks of muscle
  • It helps with weight management

How is this possible?

It takes a while (a few hours) for your body to break down and digest protein, in fact, research shows that it takes longer for protein to be digested than fat or carbs!  For example, to get 100 calories from protein your body uses 30 calories to turn it into usable energy. That’s 30% usage. For fats it’s 12% and carbs it’s 7%. Isn’t that nuts!? So I guess you could say protein is a very “expensive” source of energy – but for good reason!

Because protein maintains and builds muscle, the more protein you eat, the more muscle you should have (as long as you’re working out and doing some sort of bodyweight exercises or weight lifting) – and the more muscle you have the more calories you burn throughout the day, therefore, also burning more fat!

So how do you like your protein?

Meat/eggs/dairy? Protein pancakes? (you can get the recipe here) Fortified cereals, bars, shakes? Or tofu/beans/TVP?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Special K Red Berries (best cereal ever!!!) but stopped eating cereal for a while because I had to lower my carb intake and increase my protein to help sculpt my physique for the fitness bikini comp. But really, I do love my cereal just slightly crunchy, a bit mushy, swimming in a bath of delicious almond milk. Mmm…

Anyway, the other day Special K sent me a box of cereal! But it was a “protein plus” version! I checked the label and whoa, look at this…10g of protein in a serving! Not bad not bad!!

I actually gave the cereal a try (even though it is not in my bikini comp diet) and ate it along with a bowl of vanilla whey protein as my “milk”. The cereal was really good, sweet, and crunchy! And you know what, eating cereal in a whey protein mix aint so bad I must say! Just make sure you like your protein powder first or else this could ruin everything…

If you’re a cereal lover, this is a good way to ramp up the protein intake. However, my philosophy is clean eating which is to stick to as many whole, natural foods as possible, whenever possible. Eat it raw if you can. If not, try steaming and baking. I’m not against microwaving either. If you boil veggies, use the water to make a broth because it’s full of GREAT nutrients!

So tell me…how do you outsmart hunger and cravings – how do you like to stay full?


Why does it take longer to digest protein than fat or carbohydrates? Sharecare.com

The Power of Protein sheknows.com


Note: FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own, as always!

52 thoughts on “Why You Should Eat More Protein”

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  1. Rob says:

    Kelloggs Special K!? You have to be kidding me…Every single cereal that Kelloggs make is full of crap. Look at the ingredient list and you’ll find it in the top 3 in the list of ingredients every time. Avoid these kinds of cereal at all costs, they are terrible for you.
    If you want to eat naturally, stick to natural products and not man-made rubbish that is full of sugar and artificial ingredients that taste amazing but are not good for you. These cereal manufacturers are just after your money, they don’t care about health and well-being. It’s all about profit for them.

    1. nunya says:

      Whole grain wheat, wheat gluten, sugar, rice, soy protein isolate, wheat bran, defatted soy grits, contains 2% or less of salt, cinnamon, malt flavor, L-lysine monohydrochloride, sucralose, BHT for freshness. What’s your point?

  2. Sweety says:

    Oh my gosh, please no! Usually I do not comment because I do not want to interfere with people’s choices, but that is too much. Said ahead, I’m studying dietetics in Italy, so I know what I’m talking about.
    First, pleeeeeeeeeeease make a differces between sugar and “carbs”. Sugar should be kept withing 10% of your daily energy amount, which means basically that it comes from fruit and vegetables. The other carbs (which means complex carbs; note that sugar is a simple carb) should amount from 55-65% of your daily energy amount. Which leaves 25% for fat (of which max 10% saturated fat, and only 7g at most of trans fat) and 10 -15% proteins. Yes, only that amount of proteins (if you’re an athlete a bit higher) because 1. if your body can avoid it proteins are NOT used for energy means, but for repairing your damaged tissues, muscles, new antibodies etc. Just a very little amount is used to produce some precursors for your energy metabolism. You do not have a protein reservoir in your body, means that basically if you desperate your body long enough with starving it or not eating any carbs, it will start eating up your muscles to get some energy. 2. Proteins have a molecolar structure which make them produce ammoniac and urea and other compounds when they are broken apart, which are TOXIC. Means that if you exaggerate you will exaust your kidneys which may lead to kidney insufficiency in the future.
    Let me tell you something about diabetes: it is for the most part a genetic disease. Your environment plays an important role, which means that a wrong nutrition may contribute. But so is the exaggerated use of fat (above all the saturated and trans ones), because, simply, being obese is a risk factor of becoming a diabetic.
    Saying that, I’m very disappointed that Dukan was quoted here. It is already known that he published this diet to make his patients loose weight very quickly and he didn’t give a damn about they’re health. No wonder he was banned from the medical association because his diet at long term causes very heavy damage to the health of the patients. Furthermore, he never studied nutrition which leads him to simply not knowing the facts. For example: Proteins are very easily digested (dipending on the preparation, of course), fats are digested much slowlier. If it is stated a study, it may be the one in which they gave some meat to eat (which is digested for 8 hours approximately and associated most of the time to fat) and compared that to an egg (which has a very good protein quality and, if not fried, is digested withing 2 hours). Which, however, does not concern IN ANY WAY how easily is digested something or not.
    Saying that, pleeeease to not ruin your health go to a certified dietitian and do not believe everything you read on the internet. 🙁

  3. Karisa says:

    That special K protein cereal is my new fave, im so surprised!! Thank you!! I’ve been looking for low carb/high protein cereal too

  4. Rebecca says:

    So, I realize a girl’s gotta make money, and sponsored posts are probably a great way to do that (I honestly don’t know how much they bring in, but it isn’t any of my business!), and I’ve been following your blog since Boston, but I have to admit…The number of sponsored posts — from Miracle Noodles to Blue Diamond to Special K — is really starting to turn me off this blog.

    But then again, I’m not making you any money, and I understand the need for it, but I just wanted to throw that out there, for whatever its worth.

    1. cari garvey says:

      FYI Cassey was posting about miracle noodle and special k long before they even took notice of how much cassey loves the stuff

    2. M says:

      Agreed. I think getting sponsored is fine, but a sponsored post SHOULD be labeled as advertorial or something. Special K is WAY out of the unprocessed clean food category, and a huge irony to be advertised on this blog. C’s AMAZING for her motivation and workouts, but probably not the best for promoting real natural food, which is 80% of the fitness equation.

  5. Rena says:

    I completely agree with Cassey, but it is also important to choose the right type of protein (organic and grass-fed when it comes to meats.) Studies do show that eating too much meat can lead to negative consequences, HOWEVER they do not separate factory meat from organic/grass-fed animal products in those research studies. I switched to the Paleo diet/lifestyle in March and have not looked back. My diet consists mainly of protein and health fats, while getting all of my necessary carb intake from vegetables and fruit. Carbs/sugars spike your insulin levels which leads to weight gain and insulin resistance (this explains the Diabetes prevalence in the American and other carb consuming cultures.) Our whole food pyramid is built on carbs, yet so many people in our society are struggling with weight. This must mean we are doing something wrong. The whole carb craze is only an advertisement to support grain industries. I agree with Cassey and recommend all popsters to try getting their carbs from natural non-processed sources and eliminating all factory meat from your diet.

  6. d says:

    Dear Cassey,

    There is a really good book by Michael Pollan, ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’. In fact there are a lot of books now in a similar vein because people are finally realizing that you can’t recreate Nature.

    Protein powder, made from GMO soy, is not going to give you any health benefits and will seriously harm you in the long run. Neither is added protein to highly processed breakfast cereals made by subjecting grains of GMO corn to extremely high temperatures and then pushing them through rollers to flatten thereby destroying most if not all of the inherent nutrients, then spraying them with GMO corn or soy oil to toast, and then adding flavoring so that it doesn’t taste like the inedible substance it is. Breakfast cereal is not food.

    Eating clean is more than just stay away from sugar and fried foods, although that is a big part of it and kudos to you for your self-discipline in that regard. But eating clean is really most importantly about eating real food and not industrial food-like substances that the big food names are so very desperate to sell, as you have clearly experienced firsthand judging by this post.

    You are an example for people in terms of your lifestyle. You owe it to your POPsters to guide them to things that will benefit them and not harm them. Don’t take my word for it either, but do your own homework. Where does the food come from? What does it go through before it arrives in the supermarket? What is IN this stuff? We are lucky to be living in an age where many investigative journalists are expending time and money to answer these questions.


    1. steph says:

      I totally agree with you! I saw Special K and thought what? This doesn’t even LOOK like real food. If you can identify the food that’s in what you’re eating without looking at the label then I feel you really shouldn’t be eating it.

      Personally I have a 5 ingredient rule. If something I want to eat and has more then 5 different ingredients in it, or ones that I can’t pronounce/know what they are, then I don’t eat it.

      1. Saima says:

        I always thought that eating clean was about eating as much fresh fruit n veg as you can without it going through any process of breaking it down and creating something that is not nature like. So D, what you say makes total sense. Otherwise we’re introducing alien products to our body..which cant be good. If you look at certain parts of the world, say the meditarranean, they look much healthier because there diet does not include processed food…albeit they eat rich food but its not processed.

        BtW..this is one of my fav subjects to talk about..i could go on n on n on.

      2. steph says:

        * If you can’t identify the foods”…grr at typo.

        Also am I the only that noticed that Dr. Pierre Dukan that answered one of the questions sells a high protein diet book? His answer may be correct, but I can’t shake the feeling that in the end it’s something I can’t trust. (Or at least should look up somewhere else)

        Cassey don’t get me wrong. I love you and your workouts. I know you’re super mega busy with EVERYTHING you do. I’m sure that everyone that comments feels the same way. I think we just all want to make sure all the view points are and information is out there for everyone to see.

      3. Elizabeth says:

        I can pronounce those ingredients because I took organic chemistry and biochemistry in college. So that rule wouldn’t work for me.

    2. Kate says:

      Hey d,
      I love your comment. The omivores dilemma is one of my favorite book. I do not think that everyone should eat the same because I think everybody reacts differently to food but I do think people should educate themselves more. Sometimes I think it slips people’s minds that the best food may be the ones without any nutrition labels or claims.


  7. Julia says:

    Love that cereal, so yummy! For anyone wondering it’s a light cinnamony sweet taste. Cassey – how do you make a broth from boiled veggie water? Just use the water or add something to it to give it taste?

  8. Alexandra says:

    Protein and fiber are my secret weapons. This morning having a trader joes sonoma wrap, with egg whites scrambled with spianch and hot sauce and then nori flakes on top before wrapping it up, 150 cals, 15 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber, keeps me full for hours.
    Fiber is also a secret weapon, the more you eat the less calories you absorb, for example 30 grams a day eliminates 200 extra calories, that adds up over time!

  9. Leelee says:

    I tend to drink water first and if my body is still craving something, I’d eat a small snack like yogurt.

  10. Teresa says:

    I agree with the others who are cautioning about eating too much protein. While you do need protein, it’s almost certain that you are already eating enough, and possibly too much if you eat animal products like meat, dairy, and egg, or even if you’re vegan and eat a bunch of those faux meats made with isolated soy protein (like tvp).

    Cassey, I love your site and you are so inspirational, and I know you just want to help, but I’m afraid the title of this blog post might accidentally encourage those who are already eating plenty of protein to eat even more and damage their health. Like others have said, complex carbs (grains, legumes, veggies) are the way to keep healthy and stay full… because these foods have all the protein you need in them already 🙂

    1. cari garvey says:

      you should be eating 1 gram of protein per 1lb of lean body mass….i eat about 150 grams of protein everyday

  11. Bee says:

    Hey Cassey,

    I totally love your banana pancake recipe and would like to eat it everyday 😉
    But I am a bit concerned about eating so many eggs a week, because of the cholesterol in it.

    What do you think, is it still healthy to eat, for example, banana pancakes (or something else with eggs) 3 times a week or so?


  12. Hi Cassey!

    Although I know protein is super important to have in your diet, I’m not the biggest meat eater. I find red meat upsets my stomach so if I do eat meat I chose orangic, free range, white meats. Since I don’t eat a lot of meat I tend to get my protein more from plant sources such as quinoa, beans, vegetables, hemp protein powders. I like your idea with the cereal:) cereal is my weakness although I eat it more like a dessert instead of breakfast.

    Keep up the great posts! Love them <3
    Healthnut Nutrition

  13. Emma says:

    Doesn’t cereales contain protein that doesn’t have all amino-acids to make a useful source of protein? Of course the combination you have there would make it to a complete source of protein, I think, but I’m confused by myself.. in vegetarian cost you need to think of the combination of foods to make good proteins ,right, but can you take one “no-complete-protein source” and combine with an “complete-protein source” to make it to a good protein source? What happens with the proteins that aren’t “complete” then you have it in your body?

  14. Johanna says:

    Cassey, I don’t know if you know the 80/10/10 lifestyle. It basically stands for 80% carbs 10% fat 10% protein, and all raw vegan, so only nuts fruits and veggies. I recently started to do this, and I must say that I feel amazingly energized, alive and it also works wonders with my weight loss!! I actually prefer this over a high protein diet, because of the health aspects and also because of the spiritual aspects, I mean eating food that comes basically right out of the ground makes me feel so good! Maybe check out Rawfully Organic or fully raw kristina, those are amazing! 🙂

  15. Elis says:

    Hi Cassey!
    I love poppilates and I exercise it every day. Now I try to lose weight because I ate clean but I sometimes overeat and I put on weight. Now I eat smaller portion and i have full but I calculated that I ate only 1000-1400 kcal and I found out that it is wrong, that I should eat about 2000-2400 kcal. But I scare, if I will eat more so I don’t lose weight. Can you recommend what I should do? Thanks 🙂

  16. Sharon says:

    Lately I am loving the new Silk Fruit & Protein drinks. While they “only” have 5g of protein (they also have 24g of carbohydrates) I like it much better than just juice in the morning.

    I also have been enjoying the Silk soymilk (I have tried others, including store brands – I just haven’t been lucky). The light has 6g protein and only 70 calories. 2 weight watchers points per serving 😀 and great with my cereal

    1. You should try Chocolate Almond milk with your favourite protein powder, a frozen banana and a tbsp of raw nut butter:) it’s one of my favourite protein smoothies to have anytime of the day. Let me know if you try it out!

      Healthnut Nutrition

  17. Conny says:

    i toooootally love chocolate… so here is my way to outsmart cravings:

    step 1: if i feel a craving, i do not eat chocolate right away. i wait 20-30 minutes.
    step 2: if i still fell a craving, i eat 1 single piece of chocolate (or whatever) and wait another 10 minutes.
    step 3: if the craving is gone – fine. if not, repeat step 2 and 3 🙂

    for me personally, this is the best way. when i wait, it often happens, that the craving stops automatically. if it does not, it is probably a sign that my body needs carbs (sugar). so i give it to my body. but due to the waiting, i won’t overeat.

    1. I’m a huge chocolate lover as well:) I actually find if I eat dark chocolate I satisfy my craving with a smaller piece. But when I eat milk chocolate( the bad stuff) I could easily eat the entire bar and still want more haha

  18. Carly says:

    Hey Cassey,

    Great new blog. I would be interested in your opinion. I have been ‘eating clean’ the past six months. Tosca Reno and James Duigan’s books (as well as your blog!) have given me the info and inspiration. BUT I have completely cut out packaged cereals from my diet because I was under the impression that many, including Special K, have gone through processing. In fact the reason they are ‘fortified’ is because much of the nutrients have been strip to make the cereal low fat. I try and rely on oats really in the place of any packages cereal.
    As I know you are such a advocate for clean eating I would be really interested in any info you have about what makes a packaged cereal clean? I do miss my bowls of crunchy goodness so if there are any hints, tips or indegredients to look out for on boxes to decided what makes a ‘clean cereal’ I would really appreciate it!
    Thanks for all you do!

    1. Mary Kate B says:

      hey Carly! check out Erewhon cereal, their cereal is pretty much the only one I trust because it is completely organic and gluten free which is a nice bonus. They just came out with a Buckwheat and Hemp cereal which is great and I love their crispy brown rice cereal (the only ingredients are Organic Brown Rice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, and Sea Salt)… I love it with almond milk 🙂

    2. Alexandra says:

      I could be wrong but i don’t believe a clean cereal exists, besides iatmeal or oatbran which you could also try adding crunchy things too, other option would be to make your own heathly granola whifh would defiently have a crunch your missing. I bet there is a recipe out there using protein powder versus juice/sugar somewhere for the sweetness.

      1. Carly says:

        Thanks Mary Kate B. I will check those out!! Great tips!

    3. Alaina says:

      If you’re interested in a minimally processed cereal, Whole Foods carries tons of “puffed grain” cereals of the ancient variety, Millet and Amaranth come to mind.Basically a bag of grains that have been air puffed for crispiness without any sugar added. You can also find some cool unprocessed hot cereals if oatmeals is boring. Farro I hear is super good.

      1. Carly says:

        Thanks Alaina. There are a few there I haven’t heard of before. Amazing!

  19. Jessica says:

    Thanks Cassey!!! Love you and all your videos! You are so encouraging. Thanks for inspiring me to workout daily, due to your silly personality. Keep it up girl! <3

    1. Jessica says:

      OH! By the way my favorite protein intake is eggs, quinoa and cliff bars (for now anyway) I have to switch things up pretty often or I get bored. 😉

  20. Nicole says:

    I love to make happy chicken eggs in the morning using the egg whites, then I put the yolks in my hair to make it shiny! No waste, just a full belly and radiant locks!

  21. Whitney says:

    Your body actually doesn’t like to use protein as a source of energy. It prefers carbs first and then fat and then if it absolutely must (because a lack of carbs/fat) it will use protein. Protein is mainly used to build muscle.

  22. Tiffany says:

    Hey Cassey!
    Protein is the best! I have changed my eating habits a long time ago and it was the best decision ever. Low carb but high protein! I lost so many kilos and have the nicest figuere now. Carb is just so useless – it only makes the body lazy. I do not miss stuff like that a bit.
    Can’t believe the comments about ‘eating protein is bad – stay with carb’ – they probably never tried. Its also so typical the national institutes are always telling you that a lot of protein is bad and that you need carb. Its like a dogma and no one wants to touch it. And that people eat already enough protein may be true (in USA) but they eat in the wrong combination with a lot of fat and carb.
    So go on Cassey – I totally support you!
    I gonna workout now and then drink my protein shake – as usual!

    1. cari garvey says:

      woot herbalife protein shakes for me! up to 4o grams of protein per a serving!!

  23. Tara says:

    Wow, previous person’s (Michelle) post is obviosuly spam, and blatantly falacious.

    Anyways… One thing I find great for satisfying my cravings is SHELLED SUNFLOWER SEEDS! Yes, because you have to crack open the shells you can’t just totally binge on them and eat handfuls at a time. A small bag can literally take 2 hours to eat, and only like 200 calories. So it’s great for just mindlessly sitting on the computer if you have an oral afixation like myself. And it’s pretty nutritious as well!


    1. Jessica says:

      This would be a great idea for me. EXCEPT my husband mindlessly eats these and I will find the shells EVERYWHERE. So annoying. 🙂 Maybe I could get passed those memories for a nice healthy “binge”.

    2. michelle says:

      Except that my comment was obviously not spam but was meant as caution against excess consumption of protein and is comprised of actual medical fact from world renowned medical doctors and scientists who have devoted their lives to promoting healthy diets based on real human biology and who do not profit from misleading information. There is absolutely nothing fallacious about it.

      1. C. says:

        hi michelle
        you’re right. protein is often overestimated when it comes to muscle gain.
        the average person should (i think) eat 0.8-1grams protein per day and kilogram (which most people do easily without even trying). An athlete can eat a more but shouldn’t go too crazy about it either.

        as far as i know, the main reason why athletes eat so much protein is that they eat very few carbs:
        carbs (or glucose) are the only source of energy for the brain, so when the body hasn’t got enough glucose to feed the brain, it has to produce glucose, and it does so by breaking down amino acids (i.e. protein) and turning them into glucose. (=glucose neogenesis)
        amino acids are stored in the muscle tissue, so by using them for glucose-production, the body actually breaks down the muscle (eek!).
        This is why many athletes focus on eating lots of protein: if you have lots of protein “circulating” in your body, the body will use this protein to produce glucose instead of the protein that is already stored in your muscle. this way the muscle stays protected from being broken down.

        but the problem wouldn’t exist if the athlete ate enough carbs bc then the body wouldn’t have to break down proteins in the first place.

        the important thing is that people should eat the right type of carbs, namely long-chain carbs (whole grain, starch etc) instead of short-chain carbs (sugar, etc).
        i guess that’s why so many people shy away from carbs; they associate carbs with the “bad” type only (which is perfectly understandable bc those carbs are the ones we encounter much more often than the “good” ones).

        now i still think Cassey has a point bc it IS true that proteins keep you full longer (which is convenient or even essential if you’re dieting for a comp). and as long as she’s drinking enough water, it shouldn’t be harmful (eating lots of protein causes stress on the kidneys – as you said. by drinking enough water you can support them).

        bottom line: we shouldn’t eat just one thing or another, but get a healthy dose of everything, i.e. protein, “good” fats, as well as long-chain and complex carbs 🙂

        love, c.

        1. C. says:

          oh and cassey is certainly not an advocate of the no-carb community. she may eat a lot of protein (but also drinks lots of water so that’s cool), but she’s also got a fair amount of (the good type of) carbs in her diet – cf. meal plan.
          i think she strikes a good balance. 🙂

  24. Kaitlyn says:

    i do agree that increasing protein in your diet and lowering carbs helps you stay full longer and lose weight, but it is not *necessary* in weight loss/muscle building. you can build muscle while eating the lowest suggested amount of protein, eating more protein does not promote muscle building.

    here is a legitimate resource (not some “health expert” with no degree who just writes whatever they believe in a newsletter or something) – from the national institutes of health. actual studies have to be performed for articles to be on this site.

    “Protein is important for muscle growth and to repair body tissues. Protein can also be used by the body for energy, but only after glycogen or carbohydrate stores have been used up.

    Many people feel athletes need a high-protein diet to support muscle growth, yet researchers have found this to be false.

    It is also a myth that a high-protein diet will promote muscle growth. Only strength training and exercise will change muscle. Athletes, even body builders, need only a little bit of extra protein to support muscle growth. Athletes can easily meet this increased need by eating more total calories (eating more food).

    Most Americans already eat almost twice as much protein as they need, so protein needs for muscle development are already met. Too much protein in the diet:

    – Will be stored as increased body fat
    – Can increase the chance for dehydration (not enough fluids in the body) and loss of calcium

    Often, people who focus on eating extra protein may not get enough carbohydrates, which are probably the most important source of energy during exercise.

    Amino acid supplements and eating a lot of protein are not recommended. They can increase calcium loss and put an added burden on the kidneys, which must remove the excess nitrogen that protein provides.”


    1. C. says:

      hi kaitlyn
      thanks for this informative post!

  25. Jodie says:


  26. Michelle says:

    Sorry, Cassey. This is actually not true. You should not eat more protein (not if you want to be healthy, anyway). Too much protein damages the bones, kidneys and liver, promotes cancer, immune dysfunction. It’s a myth that the more protein you eat, the more muscle you’ll build. Your body can only use so much protein. Tthe average person only requires about 20-30 grams of protein a day. The average person on a western diet consumes well over 100 grams, so typical Americans are already consuming way too much. Any excess protein puts a strain on the kidneys and liver to get rid of it. This is why people with kidney disease are encouraged to consume a low-protein diet. Also, foods that are unnecessarily high in protein tend to be animal proteins, which are acidic and causes bone loss and produces sulfur which feeds cancerous tumors.

    Protein takes so long to digest because it’s difficult for your body to get rid of it after it’s used the little that it needs. Carbs digest quickly because your body can derive the energy from them more effectively. High-fiber carbs satisfy your body, keep you full, and will not damage your body.

    It may be easier to lose weight on a high protein diet, but it cannot be sustained and will ultimately do more harm than good.

    Dr. John McDougall (amongst other leading alternative physicians) has been trying to dispel the myth of “more protein is better” for years and years.


    1. MJ says:

      THANK YOU! I’ve been wondering about this obsession with protein myself! Unhealthy and counter productive in the long term.

  27. Olivia says:

    I’m a meat girl myself – though I do love my morning oats (I do overnight oats with my protein powder mixed in with a bit of youghurt and berries – eaten cold it’s like pudding!).

    And apparently microwaving veges without any water is the best thing to keep their nutrients in. Quick too!