Your body depends on protein! This essential nutrient is an important component to every cell in your body, so it’s safe to say that it is an essential part of life. In fact, protein benefits your body in the following ways:
- Aids in cell growth
- Builds and repairs tissue
- Maintains muscle mass
- Makes enzymes, hormones and other chemicals
- Aids in development
While the importance of protein may seem obvious, many individuals struggle with incorporating it into a balanced diet that benefits their weight and health goals. Below, we offer a few tips, tricks and things to consider.
Incorporating Protein into a Balanced Diet
To begin, you should know which healthy food sources contain adequate amounts of protein:
- Meat – Opt for lean meat sources such as turkey, chicken and lean beef
- Seafood – Lean cuts of fish and other seafood options
- Beans – Low-sodium black, white, kidney, lima, navy, pinto and garbanzo beans
- Dairy – Low-fat servings of milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs
- Some Processed Foods – Low-fat protein bars, cereal bars and protein drinks
- Nuts and Seeds – Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds and Chia seeds; nut/seed butter
Making Protein a Healthy Part of Your Day
Now that you know where to get your protein, there are a few things to consider when making protein a healthy and wholesome part of your day and nutrition plan.
First, make sure you’re consuming an appropriate amount of protein. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is:
- 46 grams per day for women
- 56 grams per day for men
While that may seem like a lot, this nutrient truly adds up – especially when you’re getting it from a variety of different food sources!
You should also be aware of what other kinds of nutrients are in your food sources other than protein. This will help you make food decisions that benefit all aspects of yourself. For example, are you getting enough vitamins, minerals and healthy fats when you eat? When choosing protein-based foods, also be sure to watch for fat content, sodium and excess calories.
Additional Things to Remember…
Finally, always be acquainted with portion sizes. Too much of a certain food can elevate your calorie and nutrient intake while leaving you feeling less-than comfortable – especially when protein is so filling!
For your reference, here is a general understanding of how this essential nutrient adds up:
- 3 oz. of meat = 21 grams
- 1 cup milk= 8 grams
- 1 cup dry beans = 16 grams
- 1 eight oz. yogurt = 11 grams