Protein is today’s buzz word for those looking to slim down, buff up, or simply trying to stay healthy and fit. With busy schedules getting in the way, eating the right amount of protein at each meal can be challenging. Knowing what to eat (and when) can help you reach your goals, even when you’re on-the-go.
Know your protein numbers
A food item is considered a good source of protein if it contains five grams per serving. According to the Institute of Medicine, the average person needs about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, with about 10% - 35% coming from total calories. To meet this goal, experts recommend trying to incorporate 20-30 grams of protein per meal or snack. The key to achieving the most benefit from protein intake is to make sure you’re eating a balanced amount of protein at every meal throughout the day, since the body can only absorb so much protein at one time. Skipping protein at breakfast, for example, can sabotage your efforts if you’re loading up at dinner. Try an easy-to-make, morning protein shake.
What to eat for your healthy lifestyle
Nuts and Greek yogurt are naturally high in protein, but there are many more choices to add to the list. Food manufacturers are upping their games by adding protein to grain-based cereals, crackers, and on-the-go foods such as bars and protein bites. Not only are these foods easy to consume and carry, but they can keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. But not everyone is on the same diet, so how do you know what to eat? Here’s a snapshot of what protein to eat, based on your healthy lifestyle:
- Low-carb—Those on low-carb diets should eat complete proteins that include animal-based proteins such as meat (beef, chicken or pork) and eggs and dairy (yogurt, milk and cottage cheese). (Choose the leanest cuts of meat—organic and grass-fed are best.)
- Vegetarian—Eating a vegetarian diet may leave you lacking in essential amino acids not found in plant proteins. Vegetarians can get adequate amounts of amino acids by eating a variety of unrefined grains and legumes throughout the day. Beans, lentils and quinoa are excellent sources of protein.
- Paleo—Consuming a variety of seeds is at the top of the list for these diet-goers. Chia, pumpkin, flax and hemp seeds are excellent sources of protein, antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals.
Power of protein
Young or old, protein packs a powerful nutritional punch for all generations. Nutrition buffs are jumping on the low- or no-carb diet bandwagon and upping their protein to lose weight, get stronger, and avoid muscle loss.
Baby Boomers are part of the driving force behind the protein craze. As we age, the body begins to lose muscle. Experts say people over the age of 50 need more protein to slow muscle loss (sarcopenia). Loss of muscle can cause seniors to become weak and frail, putting them more at risk of falling. In an effort to stay strong and fit, this generation generally takes fitness seriously and keeps active to both improve strength and to avoid letting age slow them down.
Protein repairs and builds muscle so it’s important to know what to eat and when to get the best results.
- Pre-workout—Eat a snack of fruit and nuts before your workout.
- Post-workout—Eat a handful of trail mix or a small glass of chocolate milk to restore protein stores after your workout.
- Muscle-building post-workout—Drink shakes that contain branched chain amino acids.
We all have different goals. Whether yours is to build stronger muscles, find more energy, or curb your cravings, increasing your protein intake may change the way you look and feel—inside and out.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.