As a dietitian I strive to stay current with the most up-to-date science-based research in regards to your/my health and nutrition. I know that for the consumer, the ever-changing nutrition world can leave us confused and not sure what is right or wrong. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a conference titled Live Well which was hosted by the Texas Beef Council. Many scientists and researchers were there presenting primarily on protein and the key role it plays in our diet.
You may know about protein and that it is needed in our diet, but knowing how much to consume, the types to consume, the benefits, etc., may be a whole different story. No worries! Here are my top 3 things to know about protein and ways to implement with your family!
1. Protein Builds a Better Body
By building a better body I am not referring to large muscles, swimsuit competitions, etc. I am referring to everyday people like myself who need adequate protein to ensure that I am meeting my needs and protecting my body while I age.
Many of us have heard of osteoporosis, knowing our bones get weaker with age, but what about sarcopenia and muscle health? Sarcopenia in short is ongoing loss of muscle, occurring in all of us as we age. This slow loss can be catapulted by an injury, illness, fall, etc. Inactivity plays a large role in muscle loss, however, research continues to show that inadequate nutrient intake, primarily protein, plays a large role in not protecting muscle mass.
TAKE AWAY: Inadequate protein = leads to inadequate muscle.
2. The 30-30-30 Rule
I know I need protein, but how much do I need? Ongoing research continues to show us that balance is key (a dietitian’s favorite thing to hear!!), not only for protein absorption and optimal usage, but also for satiety and weight management. Shooting for 25-30 grams of protein at each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) is the ideal protein intake for most men and women alike. Protein is typically lacking at breakfast and lunch, with over consumption happening at dinner. One benefit of getting 25-30 grams at each meal is that it provides a filling meal which increases our satiety allowing us to control hunger- ultimately managing weight over the long-term.
3. Too Much of a Good Thing
When we know something is a good thing, we may have a tendency to over-consume. Just as I stated above, balance is key. 25-30 grams of protein per meal provides the average man or woman with the benefits needed to maintain appropriate intake, muscle health, and promote satiety. Consuming too much protein (or any nutrient) leads to excess caloric intake. Research shows no benefit to consuming over the 30 grams of protein per meal. Consuming food sources of high quality lean protein (lean ground beef, strip steak, pork tenderloin, eggs, turkey, tuna, salmon, etc.) is desired over supplements, powders, etc. However, depending on needs and intake, these may be appropriate at times.
**Please note that with varying disease states or physical demand, these recommendations may change. Working with an RDN is valuable to determine appropriate needs.**
There are multiple protein sources to choose from. Below is an infographic for “Stocking Your Protein Pantry” providing an extensive list of quality protein sources to keep on hand in your home.
Quick Protein Meal Ideas (no recipe needed):
- 2 eggs (12 g), 1 slice whole wheat toast (4 g), 1 T almond or peanut butter (4 g), 8 oz low-fat milk (8 grams) = 28 g protein
- 3 oz 93/7% lean ground beef (22 g), ½ cup black beans (8 g), corn tortilla, lettuce, tomato, sprinkle lightly with cheese = +30 g protein
- 3 oz sautéed chicken breast (26 g), stir fry vegetable mix (opt for frozen for convenience), ½ cup cooked brown rice (2.5 g), 1 cup mixed berries = 28.5 g protein
The Texas Beef Council has developed the 30-day protein challenge. Just like it sounds- challenge yourself and your family to consume 30 grams of protein at each meal for 30 days. Track how you feel before a meal, after a meal and your satisfaction between meals. With so many choices- the possibilities are endless!
*Pictures and Resources used w/ permission of Texas Beef Council*
No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.