Starving to Eat Right? Add Some Lean Protein to Your Diet

As we begin the last week of January it’s time to check our resolve to stick with it. On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your commitment level? Even if it’s a 10 in your head, what is it in your stomach? 

 Clients tell me the number reason they stray from their healthy eating plan is because they feel hungry all the time. When I review what they are eating, I’m not surprised. Often they are trying to survive on a diet made up mostly of low-fat carbohydrates.

 Here’s the thing. Getting healthy isn’t about elimination and denial – it’s about including more of the foods that are good for you. 

A consistent schedule of three balanced meals and two nutritious snacks per day is the goal. If you are sticking to that and still feel hungry, you need to look at what you are eating and make some adjustments.

Adding lean protein to your meals and snacks can help with your weight-loss efforts. Protein gives you a sense of fullness and prevents overeating. High-quality, lean animal protein in particular helps your body make energy to fuel physical activity and also resist infection. Here’s how to get more of it.

Good Sources of Lean Protein

Protein is found in chicken, pork, turkey, fish, lean beef, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, eggs, skim milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese and cottage cheese.

Choosing Wisely

? Select white meat turkey and chicken as often as possible; it is lower in calories than dark meat. Be sure to remove the skin before eating. Ideal preparation methods include roasting, grilling, and baking.

? Watching your fat and calorie-intake doesn't mean you have to give up beef; you just have to choose the right kind. Opt for lean or extra lean ground beef or cuts with the words "round" or "loin" in the name.

? Low-fat dairy products are a good source of lean protein because much of the saturated fat has been removed. They also provide vitamin D and calcium, which may help you lose weight.

? Beans, peas and lentils provide protein and plenty of fiber, a "one-two punch" that can help you feel full longer.  Don’t like them straight? Add them to other recipes such as chili, soup, or salads.

Get Over the Hunger Hump with Protein

Most people include protein at lunch and dinner but ignore it the rest of the day. Here is an example of how to distribute it evenly:

Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal, 1 cup skim milk (8 g), 2 tablespoon almonds (3 g), ½ cup blueberries (this breakfast contains 340 calories and 11 g protein)

Lunch:  2 oz shredded chicken breast (16 g), 2 cups salad greens, 2 tablespoons cheese (4 g), 2 tablespoons nuts (3 g), 2 tablespoons light salad dressing, 1 piece fruit, 1 piece dark chocolate (this lunch is 425 calories and 23 g protein)

Snacks:  1 cup raw veggies, ¼ cup hummus (this snack is 125 calories and 5 g protein); 6 oz yogurt (8 g), ½ cup fruit (this snack is 175-200 calories and 8 g protein)

Dinner:  4 oz Laura’s lean hamburger patty (21 g), whole wheat bun or sandwich thin, ½ cup roasted sweet potatoes, 1 cup sautéed zucchini, ½ cup sugar free pudding (2 g) (this dinner is 575 calories and 23 g protein)

This menu contains 1640 calories and 70 g protein


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