Prioritize Protein

Prioritize Protein

Paige Heiden, MS, RDN

 

Have a protein source at each meal to promote muscle maintenance and optimal growth and repair. Additionally, as we increase our physical activity, we want to minimize the loss of protein (muscle mass), and promote loss from fat stores. To do so, make sure to consume adequate protein daily. Your protein intake should be spread throughout the day. This protein can come from a combination of lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, eggs, beans, soy, nuts, seeds and supplements (protein powder, protein bars).

For easy measurement, here’s a  guide for various protein sources and serving sizes: 

  • Meat/Fish: 4oz ~20-25g protein
  • Beans: ½ cup ~8g protein
  • Nuts/Seeds: ¼ cup ~6g protein
  • Low-Fat Milk: 1 cup ~8g protein
  • Eggs: 1 large egg ~6g protein
  • Egg Whites: 1 large egg white ~4g protein
  • Greek Yogurt: 5oz container ~12-15g protein

 

Here are some simple tips/tricks to eat more protein throughout your day: 

  • Utilize portable and convenience foods such as canned/packaged tuna/salmon
  • Start your day with a serving: enjoy eggs, yogurt or cottage cheese for breakfast
  • Prepare your protein sources ahead of time so you have them on hand to throw into meals
  • Choose brands with higher amounts of protein, specifically dairy products
  • Double up with your meals: enjoy a salad topped with a lean protein and beans/legumes
  • Use a protein supplement if necessary, such as protein bars, protein powders, protein shakes

 

Additionally, here are some high-protein foods that may surprise you: 

  • Edamame: ½ cup ~9g protein
  • Lentils: ½ cup ~12g protein
  • Pumpkin Seeds: ¼ cup ~8g protein
  • String Cheese: 1 string ~6g protein
  • Nutritional Yeast: ¼ cup ~12g protein
  • Sprouted Grain Bread: 2 slices ~12-14g protein
  • Chickpea Pasta such as Eat Banza: 2oz ~14g protein
  • Bean-Based Pastas such as Explore Cuisine: 2oz ~18-20g protein
  • Bada Bean Bada Boom Broad Beans: 1oz bag ~7g protein
  • Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame: 1.5oz bag: ~20g protein
  • Bean-based veggie burgers: 1 burger patty ~9-12g protein