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Protein Packs a Punch

healthy kebabs

Nutrition 101

We’re back for another Nutrition 101 post as part of National Nutrition Month®! This week we’re focusing on protein!

All About Protein

Protein has been gaining a lot of attention and popularity. Let’s dive deeper into what protein is really all about.

Proteins are found in most every tissue type in our bodies and also form critical enzymes that help chemical reactions to occur throughout the body.

Protein is made up of amino acids, several of which cannot be synthesized by the body, but must be consumed in order to have access to these building blocks.

fresh fishAnimal sources of protein tend to have all the essential amino acids, but vegetarian protein sources usually lack one or more of the essential amino acids. That’s why it’s important for vegetarians to have a varied eating pattern, as complementary foods can provide all the essential amino acids.

Failure to eat enough protein can limit growth, decrease muscle mass, impair immunity, and weaken the heart and respiratory system. Fortunately, most Americans do not have a problem consuming enough protein.

Protein helps people feel fuller, promotes muscle growth, and can provide other important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

When considering protein sources, it’s important to consider the other nutrients that come along with protein. Fish and other seafood are excellent sources of protein that tend to be low in saturated fat, and provide heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Eating about 8 oz of seafood per week helps prevent heart disease.

On the other hand, eating red meat provides a lot of protein, but also contains saturated fat, which can increase one’s risk for heart disease and stroke if eaten regularly.

beansVegetarian protein sources, like beans, soy products like tofu or soybeans, nuts, and low- or non-fat dairy products are also great sources of protein and often contain filling fiber. There are many good sources of protein, even if you don’t eat animal products.

 

Check Out MyPlate

For more ideas on what protein to eat, check out MyPlate.

While the appropriate consumption of protein is important, it’s best to get protein from whole foods.

Protein shakes and bars are very popular these days, but these overly processed foods likely include a variety of sugars and preservatives.

If you’re looking for convenient ways to add protein to your diet, try hard boiled eggs, nuts, plain Greek yogurt, or other low- or non-fat dairy foods.

With a little planning, it’s possible to pack convenient, filling, protein-filled snacks.

What are your favorite ways to eat protein?

Let us know on the Sweet Life Wellness Facebook Page!

If you’d like more information on how to balance your nutritional needs, have a talk with Kay. Call to book your complimentary coaching call with Kay today at: 301-869-1787

Blog Author:Lauren Seat - Sweet Life Wellness Intern
Lauren Seat
Sweet Life Wellness Student Intern
Dietetics student at University of Maryland-College Park

References:
(2015) Nutrients and health benefits. In: Choose MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods-nutrients-health. Accessed 15 Mar 2017
(2015d) All about the Protein Foods Group. In: Choose MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods. Accessed 1 Mar 2017 
Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health (2012) Protein. In: The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/. Accessed 15 Mar 2017
Increased Protein Consumption Linked to Feelings of Fullness: New Study. In: www.eatrightpro.org. http://www.eatrightpro.org/resource/media/press-releases/new-in-food-nutrition-and-health/jand-increased-protein-consumption-linked-to-feelings-of-fullness. Accessed 15 Mar 2017
Protein and the Athlete - How Much Do You Need? In: www.eatright.org. http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/protein-and-the-athlete. Accessed 15 Mar 2017