In this series of Know Your Nutrition Label, I will discuss Protein. Protein, is a nutrient that is the building block of all cellular function. We are made up of protein. Like fats and carbohydrates we need protein to live and it is an essential source of energy. Protein can be found in plants and animal based foods.
It is generally recommended that we get 10 to 35 percent of daily calories from protein. Like carbohydrates, protein has 4 calories per gram. Thus in a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that amounts to 200 to 700 calories per day, or roughly 50 to 175 grams per day.
In this society where big portions are the norm it is very easy to exceed the daily recommended amount of protein. As an example the average steakhouse restaurant offers a choice of a 6-ounce piece of steak. A 6 oz piece of steak is roughly 42 grams of protein. Thus if you are targeting 50 grams of protein per day, you would only be shy 8 grams. Think about all the other meals that you haven’t accounted for, such as the protein found in your egg breakfast, your yogurt snack or your grilled chicken salad at lunch.
When choosing protein try to opt for lean cuts of animal protein whenever possible. Lean cuts of animal protein(fish, red meat or poultry) tend to be lower in fat. Also, think outside of the box when picking protein. Other sources of protein include nuts, beans and lentils. Dairy also contains a high amount of protein, an 8-ounce glass of milk has 8 grams of protein. Like with animal protein always choose lean dairy options such as low fat milk. Mix up your meals doing the week. Have seafood twice per week and at least one day per week make your main protein dish plant based such as lentil soup. Plant based protein tend to be more nutrient dense and contain more fiber which keeps you feeling fuller longer.
I can’t emphasize enough that portion control with your protein intake is key to maintain balance and also increase your chances of successfully shredding those unwanted pounds and sustaining weight loss.
by Marjorie Binette, MD