Protein Pointers for Healthy Living
By Betsy Shober
Protein is an important food group for everyone’s diet. They help build the foundation of a healthy body, contributing to strong bones and muscles, and supplying nutrients that support the immune system. There are plenty of choices available for protein sources in meals and snacks throughout your day. However, making the right protein choices may not always be so easy. Below are helpful topics about protein amounts, variety and choices, and ways to incorporate protein into meals and snacks.
Protein Intake Basics
There’s no conclusive study that provides a set amount of protein intake that applies to every lifestyle. That being said, protein percentages should range be a minimum of 10% of your daily calories, and it should not exceed 35% of your daily calories. Average daily adult intake should be around 46 grams for females, and 56 grams for males. This increases as your activity levels increase, or as your health status changes. For example, a pregnant or nursing mother needs at least 71 grams of protein each day. Finally, it is important to make healthy protein choices. This means choosing leaner meats and finding creative sources that contribute to your health in many ways.
Now that the basics of daily intake are covered, it may become a challenge to change up your protein for meals and snacks. Of course, the popular meats like chicken, pork, beef, and seafood are great classic choices. There are other lesser known sources that can bring variety and flavor to your breakfast nook or dinner table. Try starting your day by enjoying eggs and adding chopped almonds to your oatmeal. Both are great sources of protein. For lunch and dinner, choose lean proteins that will give you the energy you need during those hours between work time and bed time. Incorporating lentils and peas are a great vegetarian option, and bringing in spices like ginger and curry can warm up any chilly day. Here’s a great recipe for a Curried Red Lentil Soup that fits the bill. When its snack time, a convenient option is to reach for a protein bar, which come in many flavors and can satisfy hunger when it counts. When you want to change it up, try Lime & Parmesan Popcorn, which brings fiber and protein in one tasty treat.
Tracking for Success
There are many exercise and food tracking apps and websites available, and an added bonus to using one is the ability to track intake of important nutrients, like carbohydrates, fats, of course, proteins. Myfitnesspal is a free tool that is available as both an app and a website, so no matter where you track, you can access a wealth of information about yourself and your choices. It even has catalogued foods with verified nutrition facts, so you know what you’re eating before, during, or after your meal. It allows you to see just how much protein you’ve consumed for the day, as well as how your protein grams compare to your overall nutritional intake. You don’t have to go digital to keep track of your calories and protein each day. A simple food journal that you keep on your nightstand might be your perfect solution, and reading past entries can shed light on your healthy choices and successes.