Nutrition Week: Lean Protein

March 4, 2014
Whole Almonds

Nutrition Week: Day 2. Today we are going to focus on lean protein. I think when many people hear the word protein they think healthy, or they might think I need more of that in my diet, or maybe they think of protein shake made with protein powder. Well whatever you might think about protein, let just say that most American’s get too much protein. It is easy to get a lot of protein in your diet because it is found in a lot of foods. So let me answer a few questions you might have about protein.

So why do we need protein in our diet? Well, proteins are part of every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies. We are literally made up of protein. Our body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced. So the protein that we get from our diet replaces the lost proteins in our bodies. It is very clear that we need protein in our body to function normally.

Where is protein found? Protein is found in lots of food including, meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, dairy products, eggs, tofu and grains and even in fruit and vegetables.

How much protein do you need? It depends on your age and sex. But in general it is recommended that 10-35% of your daily calories come from protein. This chart illustrates grams of protein needed each day based on your age and sex.

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein Grams of protein needed each day
Girls ages 14-18 46
Boys ages 14-18 52
Women ages 19-70+ 46
Men ages 19-70+ 56

What types of proteins should you choose? It is most desirable that you select low fat protein choices, like lean cuts of meats. For example chicken and turkey with the skin removed or fish. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Choose low-fat cheese, I find that fat-free cheese is almost inedible so at least try the low fat option. Choose egg whites most of the time. It is also recommended to consume at least 8 oz of seafood every week.

Here are some tips on how to select healthy protein.
• Choose extra lean ground meat. The label should say at least “90% lean.” You may be able to find ground meat that is 93% or 95% lean.
• The leanest pork choices include pork loin, tenderloin, and center loin
• Buy skinless chicken parts, or take off the skin before cooking.
• Trim away all of the visible fat from meats and poultry before cooking.
• Broil, grill, roast, poach, or boil meat, poultry, or fish instead of frying.

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