Many adults I work with do not get enough protein at breakfast, get a bit more at lunch and backend a ton of protein at dinner. The problem is that your body can only utilize a certain amount of protein at a sitting. That amount is about 20-30 grams for the average, healthy adult. If you include a meat, fish or poultry source in your meal then that is easy to figure – that equates to about 3-4 ounce portion. But, the USDA Dietary Guidelines tells us to eat less meat. Some of that meat intake can be moved to eating more fatty fish like salmon and tuna, but we can also try some vegetarian options. The trends in food involve much more plant-based eating with the uptick in cooking vegetarian meals using beans, lentils and other pulses. Of course, this excites me as a food therapist as this provides much more exposure to nutrient-rich eating.
In order to achieve that 20-30 gram protein recommendation at meals and weave in non-meat alternatives, it may require you to combine some foods that contain smaller amounts of protein. Here is where Lemond Nutrition’s Trick of 7’s comes in nicely. We’ve been teaching our clients here this trick for several years, and today we are putting into a blog post for all to take advantage of in the new year.
The trick is easy: combine 3-4 combinations of foods containing around 7 grams of protein (actual range in this list 6-8 grams). Here are some examples:
1 egg, extra large
½ cup Kefir
How would the Trick of 7’s look in a meal? Here are just a few examples:
Breakfast: 1 boiled egg + 6 ounces of regular yogurt topped with an ounce of chopped walnuts. Add a serving of fruit and a whole grain English muffin to make it a meal.
Lunch: 1 cup lentil soup (with a total of ½ cup lentils) topped with an ounce of mozzarella cheese and a mixed green side salad with an ounce of sunflower seeds. Serve a fruit mixed berry medley as a sweet ending.
Dinner: 4 ounces of tofu stir-fried with Asian vegetables with ¼ cup chickpeas mixed in. Enjoy with ½-1 cup brown jasmine rice.
Note: This trick is intended for adults only. School-aged children really only need 1-2 of these "Trick of 7's" per meal.
Since so many have asked about these, we felt the need to include this NOT recommended list due to calorie content to get to 7 grams:
7T cream cheese
1-1/2 cup ice cream
7 ounces sour cream
7 ounces egg nog
We are not saying you cannot enjoy these food items in moderation, but don’t use the need to get protein in to eat them.
If you want to put this into practice, print off our education sheet and hang it on your fridge for reference.
Challenge! Eat less meat over this next year. One way is to participate in Meatless Mondays by using this list as a guide. If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you can get other ideas by searching with the hashtag #MeatlessMonday.