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Protein: How to Get Enough Protein in Your Diet

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steak2When you read the back of the food label you notice that protein is expressed in grams. In this country when we talk about protein we always talk in terms of ounces and pounds. Till this day, I still do not understand how it was decided to list in grams.Now here is the scoop.

Remember 1 OZ. of Protein = 7 grams.

Example:

When you look at my all time favorite cereal, Kashi Go Lean, the food label for protein says:  Protein  is 13 grams. All you have to do is divide the 13 by 7 and roughly we get 2 ounces of protein. If you add a cup of milk to the cereal you will be adding another 8 grams of protein or about 1 ounce. Thus, your breakfast is providing you with 3 ounces of protein which is super for breakfast.

In this country we have what is called the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) that says we should consume protein that is the equivalent of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight every day. That works out to roughly 45 grams of protein if you weigh 125 pounds, 55 grams if you weigh 150 pounds and 65 grams if you weigh 175 pounds.

Researchers and myself believe that the RDA is too low. A good way of figuring out the amount of protein you should shoot for is by taking the amount of protein in grams that is half of your present weight ( 75 grams per day for a person that weighs 150 pounds, for example).

Now lets talk about how to arrange the amount of protein in a day that we just learned that we should be eating. I will now talk about the typical person that should be having 55 grams of protein in their diet which you now know is equivalent to about 8 ounces of protein per day.

When I counsel my clients, I am always adamant about the fact that for breakfast they should have a high protein and fiber breakfast with at least 2-3 ounces of protein. That can be the Kashi cereal I used above as an example or simply two eggs fixed any way with 1 slice of 100% whole wheat bread. Yes, whole wheat bread provides you with about an ounce of protein. Each large egg will give you 1 ounce of protein that is found in the egg whites. I have clients that enjoy egg whites which they add veggies to. We can have a cup of cooked oatmeal with milk that will provide about 2 ounces of protein. There are people that enjoy leftover meat from last nite which is so easy to grab with a piece of fruit. How about a 100% whole wheat English muffin with 2 T of peanut butter?

I do suggest that we eat every three hours so we do not get too hungry and overeat at lunch. For a Mid-AM snack I recommend a 2 ounce serving of protein along with a source of fiber. Try only a handful of nuts ( very high in fat), with a cheese stick and a piece of fruit. Enjoy 1 cup of Trader Joe’s fat-free cottage cheese with veggies or fruit. Maybe a hard-boiled egg with some sliced meat sounds good, or even a bowl of oatmeal.

For lunch, absolutely we should have 4-6 ounces of protein. I believe Lunch is the turning point of the day. If we do not have this source of protein we indeed fall apart and experience endless hunger. I am in favor of having dinner for lunch or the larger meal of the day. I think quality hamburgers, turkey burgers, boca burgers, salmon burgers on 100% whole wheat Orowheat buns are incredible for staying power. Add a hearty veggie soup or salad and you will be great for 3 hours.

Again, I want my clients to have a MidPM snack at by least 4PM that will provide at least 2-3 ounces of protein. That can be hummus with veggies, a hearty bean soup from Progresso with the convenient flip top lid, or sliced meats wrapped around pickles.

Sometimes I find clients will buy a snack for Mid PM at their lunch spot. Some clients stock up the office for the whole week on Monday. They buy 5 cans of soups, or a pound of meat and a jar of pickles. Being organized and prepared is half the battle.

Then for dinner you might be surprised when I say that all you need is a few ounces of protein just like a condiment. Take note, we have consumed the RDA and more of protein. Protein stays with us longer because it takes a longer time to digest than carbs. So at night we do not need to have high performance. Typically we are winding down. The nite time meal should be more based on fiber that we probably did not have enough of during the day. The ideal dinner plate should be half veggies, ¼ protein and ¼
carbs as well.

I hope you now have a good understanding about how much protein you should have in a day. Keep on reading food labels and you will learn a lot more about where there is protein in our foods. You will find protein in meats and fish, legumes (pinto, black, lentil, black, split pea, garbonzo and more) nuts, tofu, veggie burgers, dairy and eggs, grains and cereals and in milk based drinks as well as protein shakes. I hope this helps. E-mail me if you have any questions at lifeweight1@yahoo.com