Protein is the new “it” ingredient, thanks in part of mounting research showing that protein-rich foods may help you feel fuller longer. In response to consumer demand for more protein, food companies are adding protein to all kinds of foods–from cereals to snack bars and even beverages.
Protein is considered the “building block of life,” because the macronutrient delivers essential amino acids that provide the structural components of our cells, blood, hair and collagen. They also are necessary to produce our body’s hormones that control many body functions.
With any nutrient that is considered “hot” there’s a lot of misinformation about it. Many women now think they need protein supplements and are wondering why adding more protein to their diet is not resulting in pounds off. Here’s everything you need to know about protein and how to get the right amount that will help you reach your healthy body weight and maintain your muscle mass.
Calculate Your Protein Requirements
The National Academy of Sciences has set the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein at 10 to 35 percent of their daily calories from protein or 45 grams per day for women and 52 grams for men. Most experts these days believe that a diet with that amount of protein and having much more carbohydrates may be less effective for losing and maintaining weight loss.
A lot of experts now recommend about twice as much protein as the DRI. Others suggest that we should try to get 1 gram of protein per pound of lean tissue. In either case, eating more protein doesn’t mean that you can just add more meat, milk, yogurt and chicken to your diet; it means you need to reduce the amount of carbohydrates and fat to achieve an energy balance.
The body best uses protein when it’s divided into 25-30 gram servings. If you eat more than 30 grams protein at one time, your body can’t process that much and it’s likely to be stored as body fat. I suggest obtaining 25 grams at breakfast and lunch and up to 30 grams at dinner. That how we create our breakfast, lunch and dinner options in our monthly meal plans.
Best Sources of Quality Protein
The best way to meet your protein needs is to consume a variety of protein-rich foods. As a general rule, you don’t need to seek out protein-fortified foods to meet your requirements. If you do choose protein-fortified options, be sure to make sure it’s a healthy choice and not rich in added sugars.
|Food||Serving Size||Protein Content (grams)|
|Greek yogurt||1 cup||24|
|Veggie Burger||1 patty||15|
|Cottage cheese||½ cup||14|
|Regular Yogurt||1 cup||12|
|Egg, medium||1 whole||6|
|Peanut butter||1 T||4|
Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., CSSD
Co-Author, 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin, 2013)
Appetite for Health