Are You Eating Enough Quality Protein?
Proteins are the essential building blocks for muscle, cartilage, bones, blood, and skin, and they’re crucial for weight management. Protein helps your body build and repair tissues as well as make enzymes and hormones. But how much protein does a body need? The average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, according to Harvard Medical School. To calculate your protein needs, multiply your weight by 0.36. If you weigh 150 pounds, that will translate to about 50 grams of protein a day.
Signs of Protein Deficiency
Eating too little protein can cause a range of problems, including:
- slowed metabolism
- difficulty losing weight
- difficulty building muscle mass
- fatigue and low energy
- problems with concentration and learning
- mood swings
- pain in the joints, muscles, and bone
- changes in blood sugar that may lead to diabetes
If you suspect you may not be consuming enough protein, try increasing your intake to see if your symptoms disappear.
Choose Quality Proteins
All proteins aren’t created equal. Eating processed meat like sausages, deli meats, and hot dogs increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. Large quantities of these proteins also make it more difficult to lose or maintain weight.
It’s important to consider other nutrients present in a particular form of protein. Strive to get your protein from sources that are low in saturated fat and processed carbohydrates, and try to consume a variety of foods that contain a range of other nutrients. Eating a variety of high-quality, protein-rich foods like the following ensures optimum health:
Fish contains less fat than meat and is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote a healthy heart and brain. Just three ounces of salmon or tuna contains 21 grams of protein.
Poultry is a lean protein as long as you remove the skin to reduce the amount of saturated fat you’re consuming. Three ounces of turkey or chicken contains 19 grams of protein.
Beans are higher in protein than any other vegetable and are packed with fiber to help you feel fuller longer. A half-cup of cooked beans will net you eight grams of protein.
Nuts also contain healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E for cardiovascular health. One ounce of almonds contains a whopping seven grams of protein, which is about the same amount you’ll find in an ounce of steak.
Whole grains are those that contain all of their original parts–the bran, germ, and endosperm. These include oats, corn, barley, quinoa, brown and wild rice, and wheat. A slice of whole wheat bread contains three grams of protein, and one cup of oats contains around half of your daily protein needs.
Eggs are high in protein and also contain vitamins B2, B6, and B12 and lots of minerals, like iron, copper, and zinc. A single egg will provide you with six grams of protein.
Greek yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt to remove the liquid whey, which makes it more solid than
regular yogurt and less full of sugar and carbohydrates while offering more protein. Six ounces of plain Greek yogurt contains 17 grams of protein.
Other good sources of protein include cottage cheese and milk.