Lean protein is a critical component of any healthy diet, and a high protein diet can help medical weight loss. However, not all protein sources were created equal. We’ll help you learn exactly how much protein is healthy and how can you tell the “good” proteins from the “bad” – ensuring your weight loss goals stay on track.
A high protein diet can help you lose weight, especially when you consistently have lean protein (in appropriate portion sizes) throughout the day. Quality protein helps pump up your metabolic rate and build muscles, which combined with exercise, turns your body into a fat burning machine.
Sometimes, however, too much of a good thing can have a pretty negative impact on your diet. Especially when it comes to protein. The average American consumes more than enough protein in their diet, with far too much of this protein coming directly from animals in the form of meat, poultry and eggs.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, you should aim to get between 10 and 35% of your daily calories from protein, and the leaner the protein the better. That’s about 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams of protein for men.
When eating meat, poultry or fish, remember a protein serving should be about the same size and thickness as the palm of your hand – that’s about a three-ounce serving. Another good way to track protein consumption is to remember that protein should take up no more than one-third of your plate, whether it’s in a form you can chew or drink (and that includes protein shakes).
It’s also important to make sure your protein is coming from the right source. Many animal-based proteins come with extra, unhealthy baggage, such as high fat and high cholesterol. And processed proteins, such as bacon, hot dogs, and lunch meats are packed with sodium. Steer clear of these unhealthy proteins, and chose fish, non-fat dairy, soy and beans as your primary protein sources. You can also swap rice and pasta for quinoa, a three-protein rich grain. When you’re hungry in between meals, snack on edamame or fat-free Greek yogurt.
With a few minor diet adjustments, you’ll be giving your body the healthy protein it needs to fuel long-term weight loss!