Healthy Eating – Why You Should Make Protein a Priority

good source of protein

There is one thing all the low fat, no carb, gluten free, Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean, Raw Food and Vegetarian diets have in common – they all include protein. So many diets require you to eliminate a certain food group or go fat free, wheat free, dairy free, or sugar free but none will advise you to cut out protein. And there is good reason for that.

Protein is important. It is a basic requirement to almost all bodily functions. It plays a role in our muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue, enzymes, hormones, cells and fluids, in building muscle and maintaining a healthy weight. Proteins in the body are made from smaller molecules which come from food and need to be replenished on a daily basis.

Protein Should Be a Priority

But how much do you really know or think about protein? Do you include it in every meal? In snacks? Do you know how much you need? Do you know the best protein sources beside meat? Do your kids get enough protein?

Power of Protein
Protein is a part of every cell in the body
Protein is a part of the enzymes that break down your food, absorb nutrients, remove waste, allow you to grow, move and reproduce
Protein along with iron, carries oxygen through your body
Protein is part of your muscle fibers, bones, hormones, hair, and nails
Protein is part of the antibodies that protect against viruses

How Much Protein Do You Need?
The easiest way to determine the minimum amount of protein you should consume in a day is to multiply your body weight (in pounds) by .3.

A 50 lb child then requires 18 grams of protein a day and a 150lbs adult requires a minimum of 55 grams. If you are active or looking to build muscle, you have higher requirements. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietician to be sure.

Powerful Protein Sources

Meat Sources

  • Hamburger 6 grams per oz
  • Steak 7 grams per oz
  • Chicken breast 9 grams per oz
  • Fish fillet, steak or canned tuna 6 grams per oz
  • Pork loin or tenderloin 7 grams per oz
  • Ham 6 grams per oz

Eggs and Dairy

  • Egg 6 grams per egg
  • Milk (incl soy) 8 grams per cup
  • Cottage cheese 15 grams per 1/2 cup
  • Greek yogurt 10 grams per 1/2 cup
  • Cheddar 7 grams per oz

Grains

  • Quinoa cooked 8 grams per cup
  • Oatmeal cooked 6 grams per cup
  • Amaranth cooked 9 grams per cup
  • Bulgar cooked 6 grams per cup

Beans and Tofu

  • Tofu 10 grams per 1/2 cup
  • Black beans cooked 7 grams per 1/2 cup
  • Lentils cooked 9 grams per 1/2 cup
  • Edamame cooked 9 grams per 1/2 cup
  • Chick peas 7 grams per 1/2 cup

Nuts and Seeds

  • Peanut butter 4 grams per 1 tbsp
  • Almonds 8 grams per 1/4 cup (32 almonds)
  • Peanuts 9 grams per 1/4 cup
  • Cashews 6 grams per 1/4 cup
  • Sunflower seeds 7 grams per 1/4 cup
  • Pumpkin seeds 6 grams per 1/2 cup
  • Flaxseed ground 8 grams per 1/4 cup
  • Chai seeds 9 grams per 1/4 cup
  • Hemp seeds 20 grams per 1/4 cup

Not all proteins are created equal. Eggs contain all the amino acids and are a complete protein but grains are not. Be sure to eat a variety of protein sources and when you are deciding on your next meal or snack, make sure to make protein a priority.