Protein Power 101 | Corewell Health – News Block

Consider non-meat protein sources, such as tofu or edamame, to increase your protein intake. (For Corewell Health Beat)

Some foods are well known to be excellent sources of protein: eggs, chicken, beef, fish, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, and even almonds.

But there are plenty of lesser-known protein-rich foods to consider, including lentils, quinoa, split peas, spinach, black beans, chickpeas, and edamame.

There is much to learn about eating protein, which is a nutrient we need every day and one of the main building blocks of a healthy diet.

Corewell Health dietitian Kristi Veltkamp offers tips on protein, including several new, healthier ways we might consider including it in our diet.

How much protein do I need every day?

Well, it depends on your size, gender, age, activity level, and more.

That being said, the recommended daily amount of protein for a sedentary adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. Therefore, to calculate your daily protein intake, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36.

That means the average sedentary man should eat around 56 grams of protein per day, and the average woman should eat around 46 grams.

People older than 60, very active people and those trying to build muscle mass might need more, Veltkamp said.

When should I consume most of my protein?

Some people like to start the day with a high-protein breakfast. Meanwhile, many Americans consume most of their protein at dinner.

The ideal is to distribute it as evenly as possible, Veltkamp said.

“Her metabolism works all day, so we need to give her that supply of protein. If you have small chunks of protein throughout the day, your body can build and repair itself all day.”

Balancing protein with carbohydrates throughout the day can also help you feel full longer and helps balance your blood sugar so you don’t spike, Veltkamp said.

A few ways to do that with snacks: apples with peanut butter, a favorite trail mix or seed mix with dried fruit or dark chocolate chips, carrots with hummus, or Greek yogurt with berries.

Can I get too much protein?

That’s complicated. Veltkamp said most people easily get the recommended amount of protein on any given day.

Consider this: The recommended serving size of meat as part of a healthy meal is 3 to 5 ounces, about the size and thickness of your palm or a deck of cards.

And that’s only about 25 grams of protein, half the average recommended daily allowance.

“Usually we get it very easily and we can get through it,” Veltkamp said.

The problem doesn’t necessarily stem from excess protein, but where that protein comes from, he said.

“Too much protein tends to be animal protein,” he said. “It’s hard to overeat when we eat plant-based protein.”

And too much animal protein can lead to increased amounts of cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories, leading to increased risk of heart disease, colon cancer, stroke, and diabetes, as well as other risks.

Also, excess protein is stored as fat and can cause weight gain or prevent weight loss.

Meanwhile, eating more plant-based foods offers benefits including maintaining a healthy weight, improving gut health, boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, more vitamin and mineral content, no cholesterol, and more fiber.

Veltkamp said the most important thing he talks to many people about is eating more plants.

“Make animal protein an extra item on your plate,” Veltkamp said. “Three ounces is enough for one serving. And choose a lean option, such as poultry or shellfish. Then load more into your plant intake because that’s where most of your health benefits will come from.”

A general rule of thumb to keep it easy to remember: Divide your plate into one-fourth lean, healthy protein, like chicken breast, one-quarter starchy or whole grains, like brown rice or baked potatoes, and fill the remaining half. with vegetables.

What are some non-meat protein sources?

The list is long, Veltkamp said.

Consider these, listed with the amount of protein per 1-cup serving:

  • Chickpeas or hummus, 20 grams
  • Red lentils, 18 grams
  • Black beans, 18 grams
  • Shelled edamame, 18 grams
  • Quinoa, 16 grams
  • Brown rice, 10 grams
  • Green peas, 9 grams
  • Spinach, 4 grams

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can opt for tofu, which offers 9 grams of protein per three-ounce serving, or tempeh, which has 16 grams per three-ounce serving.

Another tip from Veltkamp: add up all the protein in your meal before adding meat, and you’ll be surprised how much is already there.

Veltkamp noted that the diets of some countries, including those in places where people traditionally live longer, are based on plant-based protein.

And another bonus to going plant-based: Animal proteins, like meat and eggs, are expensive right now.

“A can of beans is much cheaper,” he said.

It might be time to start thinking about new protein sources and finding a balance that works for you.

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