The Power of Protein
High protein diets are the rage. With people following diets like the Caveman Diet, the South Beach Diet and the Atkins Diet, grocery shelves are stocked with everything from protein shakes and protein bars to protein chips and protein pancakes. Numerous studies have proven that eating a high protein diet is good for you. In fact, an article published in the National Institutes of Health’s national library of medicine suggests that protein is the “single most important nutrient for weight loss.” So, what’s so great about protein that has everyone singing its praises?
- Protein keeps you feeling fuller longer. It takes your body longer to digest protein than other nutrients which means you’ll be more satisfied from eating it and less likely to overeat.
- Paired with carbohydrates, proteins will slow down your body’s sugar absorption. This wards off blood sugar spikes and dips which almost always lead to sugar cravings and eating more than you should.
- Here’s a fun fact — once you’ve eaten proteins your body burns more calories digesting them as compared to carbohydrates and fats. So, even your digestion gets supercharged when you eat protein.
- Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth. Research shows that eating protein before and after your workout will aid in muscle recovery and growth.
- Protein can even help keep you young! Science has shown that a diet high in amino acids from protein helps slow the natural muscle loss that occurs due to aging, supports strong bones, helps maintain your immune system and even keeps your brain sharp.
Not all protein is created equal, though. Here are suggestions for high quality proteins to incorporate into your diet:
- Eggs: 1 large egg = 7 grams of protein. Not only do eggs contain all of the amino acids your body needs, they are high in biotin and vitamin B6 which help your body absorb protein. For the full health benefits, eat only organic, free-range eggs.
- Yogurt: 6 ounces = 9 grams of protein. Yogurt packs a heavy protein punch and is full of probiotics that promote healthy intestinal bacteria that support digestion. But, avoid flavored yogurts which tend to be high in sugar and instead opt for plain Greek, goat or sheep’s milk yogurt.
- Nuts: ¼ cup of almonds = 5 grams of protein. Nuts offer a super combination of protein, antioxidants, unsaturated fat and fiber. They can help ward off cardiovascular disease, reduce inflammation in your body and support your cognitive function.
- Beans: 1 cup = 15 grams of protein. Beans are a fantastic vegan/vegetarian protein option. Not only are they high in protein, they also contain loads of fiber which helps you feel full and promotes healthy digestion.
- Beef: 3 ounces = 22 grams of fiber. Just one serving of beef gives you almost half of the recommended daily allowance of protein. Choose high quality grass fed beef which is also rich in vitamins A and E.
- Chicken: 3 ounces = 21 grams of protein. Chicken is probably the most versatile protein choice that can be incorporated into lunch or dinner. Organic chicken is the best choice to ensure what you’re eating is pesticide and antibiotic free.
Even with all this good news around protein, it is important to note that overeating it can still lead to weight gain – just as overeating carbs or fats would. General dietary guidelines suggest you consume 0.36 grams of protein for every pound that you weigh. Fitness enthusiasts however, recommend closer to 0.5 grams per pound of body weight in order to maximize its positive effects.
Want a protein packed dinner that’s easy to prepare? Try this healthy chili recipe with only two steps to prepare.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey or ground chicken
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 1 (28 ounce) can canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 (16 ounce) can canned kidney beans – drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place turkey in the pot, and cook until evenly brown. Stir in onion, and cook until tender.
- Pour water into the pot. Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans, and garlic. Season chili powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.