How to Leverage the Protein Punch

No matter how much we think we know about protein, there are still misperceptions and flat out myths that could have you losing protein’s punch of energy.

Top Protein Myths*

MYTH #1 PROTEIN IS ONLY IN MEAT.

Truth: Vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are excellent sources of protein without the health risks of meat and other animal products.

MYTH #2 PROTEIN IS GOOD; CARBS ARE BAD.

Truth: Both protein and carbohydrates are part of a nutritionally balanced diet. Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source and should take up the majority of your plate. Grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans are considered carbohydrates. They are also excellent sources of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.

MYTH #3 HIGH-PROTEIN DIETS HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT

Truth: Calories are calories, whether they’re from carbs or protein. Excess protein calories will not magically turn into muscle. To lose weight in a healthy way, it is important to have a balanced diet focusing on all of the necessary nutrients.

*Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

TRUTH:

Vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are excellent sources of protein without the health risks of meat and other animal products.

THE PLUS OF PAIRING

The origin of the word “protein” comes from the Greek word “protos,” which means “first.” This underscores protein’s significance to the human body. Protein is found in every cell of your body and acts as the building block for bone, skin, muscle, cartilage, and blood. Not only is it central to physical growth and strength development, research suggests that protein also helps with satiety, or your fullness factor.

Why is satiety—or satisfaction—so important? Have you ever caught yourself running out the door for work with a piece of toast in hand only to find that an hour later you are searching your desk for a mid-morning snack? The missing component to that breakfast is the protein your body so desperately needs to operate at full potential. By adding a couple of scrambled eggs with cheese or a scoop of peanut butter to that toast, your body will have a much greater chance of avoiding those mid-morning stomach growls and the energy dip that often accompanies them. Paying attention to how you pair proteins with other macronutrients (namely carbs and fats) can make a big difference in satiety.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

The amount of protein you need depends on your age, sex, how much you weigh, and how active you are—among other things. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. To find out your average individual need, perform the following calculation: Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams).


SINGLE SERVINGS OF PROTEIN GOOD PROTEIN SOURCES (GRAMS)

3 ounces tuna, salmon, haddock, or trout – 21g

3 ounces cooked turkey or chicken – 19g

6 ounces plain Greek yogurt – 17g

½ cup cottage cheese – 14g

½ cup cooked beans – 8g

1 cup of milk – 8g

1 cup cooked pasta – 8g

¼ cup or 1 ounce of nuts (all types) – 7g

1 egg – 6g

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database, 2015


Leslie Carr, RD, LDN is Nutrition Director of Residential Services at Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders located off of Houston Levee Road in Cordova, Tennessee. http://www.fairhaventc.com To submit questions or future nutrition topics, contact Leslie at lcarr@fairhaventc.com.

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