One of the biggest dieting myths out there claim that most people don’t get enough protein (protein deficiency is defined as eating 50-75% of the recommended daily amount of protein).
Yet in fact, the average American consumes about 50% more than the recommended daily amount.
How does that happen? In a meat-eating land, the average American consumes 112 grams of protein a day, twice the amount recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. So why do health professionals tell you to get enough protein, and what do they mean specifically?
Why Is Protein Important?
First off, protein is crucial for the inner workings of the body that we need not only to build muscle mass, but also to carry out many other biological functions in the body.
When health experts say to get enough protein in your diet, they mean that approximately 15 to 30% of your calories should be from protein – depending on your age and sex. But the key, and something people get confused about, is to choose efficiently and get the right amount.
Pick heart-healthy low-fat proteins that aren’t high in saturated fats (which can cause heart disease): Fish, lean pork, eggs, turkey, tofu, and low fat diary products (like yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, and kefir), as well as beans are all good sources of lean, high quality protein.
A lot of gym-savvy people tell me that protein bars and shakes help them stay lean, but sadly, most of those products sit on store shelves forever, are loaded with preservatives, sugar, and artificial colorings. Let’s face it, they aren’t real foods at all.
By contrast, I find that it’s a lot easier to get your protein needs for the day by eating whole foods that have a wealth of other health benefits, including a slender silhuette as I point out in my brandnew 24-page Ditch The Diets booklet.
For women 25 years and older, health professionals recommend around 50 grams a day, and for men of the same age around 63 grams. So let’s take a look at how this adds up in terms of meal choices:
Have a baby spinach salad with a sliced grilled chicken breast at 26 grams of protein, 1/2 cup of chick peas at around 10 grams, with a chopped hard-boiled egg at 6 grams, tossed with low-fat dressing and you already have 42 grams of protein for the day!
So if you happen to be one of those people who are lacking protein, just remember if you are adding more don’t decrease the amount of veggies and fruits to keep your plate and your system well balanced!
In tomorrow’s post, Tender Chicken Dishes for Fast Week Night Cooking, I’ll address one of the perennial problems faced by home-cooks: overcooked chicken, and my tips how to cook chicken properly.