Protein foods

Protein: Why we need it and where to get it

Protein is dominating front-of-package food labels and is featured in everything from cereal to yogurt to water. Everyone seems to want more of it, and for good reason – protein fills you up and increases satiety (feeling of fullness after eating). It’s more filling than carbohydrates, it’s well utilized by your body, and it barely impacts blood sugar levels. What’s not to love?

As the protein-craze continues it’s helpful for consumers and health conscious eaters to be aware of how to best work protein-rich foods into your everyday diet. Understanding the benefits of consuming the right amount of protein can help with weight loss. If you’re feeling more satisfied every time you eat then, in theory, you should feel more in control of snacking between meals and be better able to make nutritious choices.

Which Foods Contain Protein?

Let’s do a quick review. Protein is naturally found in animal products (eggs, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, seafood, and dairy foods) and in many plant foods (soy, quinoa, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, and nut butters).   Protein supplements and higher-protein flours are also available to help boost the protein content of foods.  Examples of these are whey protein powder, plant-based protein powders, pasta made with chickpea flour, and homemade almond flour muffins.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

A sensible way to approach protein in your diet is to make sure you get adequate protein throughout the day. For most adults this means aiming for 20-30 grams of protein in the morning, in the midday, and in the evening.  Your  body effectively utilizes up to about 30 grams of protein in one sitting; getting more than 30 grams of protein in one sitting doesn’t seem to provide much added benefit.

To ensure you’re getting the filling benefit of protein, include foods like Greek yogurt, lean animal proteins, legumes, soy products, nuts and nut butters, eggs and egg whites, and high protein grains and pastas regularly.  Talk with your Dietitian-Nutritionist for guidance on incorporating these satisfying foods into your meal plan.

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