Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, helping the body to have less appetite for eating and to use energy to convert protein to carbohydrates in a process called gluconeogenesis. According to one study, overweight men and women who followed a low-fat, high-protein diet for six months lost nearly 4 kg more, on average, than members of a similar group who ate a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. But it can be tricky to make sure you’re getting enough, no more, no less, as consistently eating a high protein diet does not mean your body will burn off even more calories. On the contrary, if too much protein is consume regularly, then it can be converted to fat (indirectly) and stored, the same as carbohydrates can be converted for fat storage.
Remember always that our body cannot store protein, so it needs a fresh supply every day.
Here are six sources of protein to add to your diet:
Poultry. Skinless chicken and turkey meat are a great sources of protein, B vitamins, zinc and low in saturated fat, and a 3-½ oz piece chicken breast will provide you 21 grams of protein. In addition to protein, turkey meat even provides other nutrient that are being studied for their connection to alleviating depression.
Fish. Experts say that most fish contains about the same amount of protein as meat, provides iron and vitamin B-12, important for energy, and for instance, a salmon steak has one fourth the saturated fat of beef steak. If we’re to believe the Canadian experts, we should all eat at least two servings of 75 grams or ½ cup of fish each week, fish such as char, salmon, herring and rainbow trout.
Lean meat. No one says you have to give up entirely in eating red meat. You just have to choose the leanest cuts to reduce the added fat. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet recommends maximum 175 grams of lean meat a day because this amount can lower your blood pressure by 8.9/4.5 mmHg, reducing your risk of heart disease by 15 percent and your stroke risk by 27 percent.
Beans provide nearly as much protein as meat, and are much lower in fat and calories. One cup of cooked beans contains 12 to 25 grams of protein, which is 25 to 50 percent of the RDA.
Eggs. Spanish omelette, scrambled or poached eggs on toast not only will keep you full for hours, but will also bring you about 6.5 grams of protein per egg. Remember though that you shouldn’t eat more than 4 eggs per week if you want to have a healthy liver and a normal level of cholesterol.
Vegetables and nuts. Vegetables contain more protein than any other plant food, are high in complex carbs and low in fat. A cup of cooked lentils, for instance, will provide nearly 18 grams of protein, which is comparable to a serving of T-bone steak. Nuts aren’t just a good source of protein, but they offer our body good fats – mono and polyunsaturated.
Dairy, and I mean low-fat dairy such as yogurt, light cottage cheese and skim milk, is very important for the health of our bone structure, for maintaining healthy normal blood pressure. Besides, two cups of milk each day will not only boost your protein intake, but will also provide adequate vitamin D.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that there’s a daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein based on a person’s age and weight that you should follow. The RDA for adults is 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. This works out to 44 grams for a 120 pound person, 55 grams of protein for a weight of 150 pounds, and 66 grams for 180 pounds. Children under eighteen need some additional protein to allow for growth, and pregnant women are allocated an additional 10 grams of protein per day by the RDA, while nursing mothers an extra 12 to 15 grams during the first six months.