So are you getting enough protein?
Oatmeal & fruit for breakfast, a salad with fruit for lunch..these are super healthy choices however are seriously lacking in protein. So many people are low in this vital macronutrient...
Protein is not only integral to every bodily process, it is also a slow burner (slow to digest) which keeps us satiated and has minimal effect on blood glucose levels. Protein helps us to preserve and gain muscle mass which keeps our metabolism high and burns calories even at rest – who doesn’t want that? Muscle tissue also supports our joints to keep them strong so that we can stay injury free while enjoying all of the activities that we love.
Protein also keeps our skin, hair, and nails strong & healthy.
Now although we need protein we don't need to go overboard, no need to live on protein shakes! Excess calories from any macronutrient will be stored as fat. I also need to clarify that a balanced healthy meal including protein should be a palm sized serving of protein, and lots (half a plates worth) of non-starchy vegetables, a little healthy fat, and a reasonable portion of carbohydrate (preferably a veggie carb such as a potato or squash or piece of fruit)
*image courtesy of Precision Nutrition
A meal including protein needn't look like a plate of fried eggs and bacon or sausage with cheese - we're aiming to upgrade our health after all.
There is so much mixed information about protein, so how much do you need? Well it depends on the person, their goals, and activity level. I find that my active clients get great results in body composition and performance between 0.7-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
So how can we get enough?
Good quality meat is an easy way to get enough protein but if you're not a meat eater you can still get adequate protein by making smart choices. What often happens when people give up meat is that they go processed carb heavy which is missing the point of vegetarianism (hello veggies!).
If you are a meat eater be sure to choose quality meats (hormone & antibiotic free - not factory farmed)! As an animal lover over here I must add that humanely raised meat is not only the most nutrient dense, when you choose it, you are voting for the humane treatment of animals with your dollars and every animal deserves that!
Variety is important so maybe one night free range organic chicken, next a lentil dish, followed by grass fed beef (high in CLA!), and then local, line caught, or wild fish…you get it!
Nix the processed, smoked, cured meats (hot dogs, sausages, bacon, etc) which typically use nitrates to preserve them and are shown to be carcinogenic (cancer causing!) You can find brands that don't use nitrates or nitrites to preserve these meats like Applegate Farms so that you can feel better about including these items on occasion.
Here are some of the high protein foods that we buy and the certifications that I look for:
*Beef & bison (*Grass fed, pastured, humanely raised, hormone & antibiotic free)
*Fish (not always large fish which can be high in mercury) – local, line caught, wild fish
*Eggs (Certified Humane breaks down how to buy clean & humane eggs)
*Poultry (free range, antibiotic & hormone free, humanely raised, organic
Non Meat Foods that Are High in Protein
Ezekiel bread – ( 2 slices has 8 grams of protein)
Lentils – ( 1 cup has 18 grams of protein)
Beans & legumes (1/2 cup has 7-10 grams of protein)
Quinoa ( 1 cup cooked has 8 grams of protein)
Protein powder (15-25 grams of protein per serving) - if buying whey protein look for a New Zealand hormone free (grass fed) whey. For vegan protein I use and love SunWarrior protein (get 20% off with promo code: instagram )
Spinach ( 1 cup has 5 grams of protein)
Peas (1 cup has 8 grams of protein)
Pumpkin seeds ( 1oz has 9 grams of protein)
Plain Greek yogurt ( 1 cup has 23 grams of protein) - we love Fage. Buy plain (we love the 2%) and add your own berries as flavored yogurts are full of sugar.
Organic cheese (one cheese string has 7 grams of protein) - we choose organic valley
Organic grass fed milk (one cup has 8 grams of protein)
**Chia seeds (1 oz has 5 grams of protein) - try my chia'n berry bowl
Hemp seeds (3 tbsp has 10 grams of protein)
Nuts (1/4 cup from 7-9 grams of protein)
**please note that nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of calories so portions need to be kept in check.
Snacks & packaged foods
Edamame both fresh or dried for a snack (13 grams per 1/3rd of a cup)
Black bean or Lentil pasta (1x 2 oz serving has 25 – grams of protein)