When building a healthy plate at meal time, you want it to be filled with one half non-starchy vegetables, one quarter lean protein and one quarter quality carbohydrate. Read on for part one on lean protein, in our three week series on building a healthy plate.
Eating a natural amount of protein—about one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (not exceeding 200 grams regardless of weight)—is important in getting our biological functions back to normal to maintain a healthy weight and lower body fat. An easier way to portion out your protein source is to use the palm of your hand as a guide at each of your meals. Protein keeps us satisfied and fuller for longer so we aren’t reaching for low quality foods a few hours after lunch. It also helps our metabolism to burn body fat instead of lean muscle tissue, so we look strong and healthy! D.K. Layman from the University of Illinois says, “Use of higher protein diets reduces lean tissue loss to less than 15% and when combined with exercise can halt loss of lean tissue during weight loss.”
Researchers are continuing to uncover numerous health benefits resulting from a more balanced intake of protein. My favorite comes from Loren Cordain here at Colorado State University, “There is now a large body of experimental evidence increasingly demonstrating that a higher intake of lean animal protein reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, obesity, insulin resistance, and osteoporosis while not impairing kidney function.”
If you want to dial down your hunger during the day, burn more body fat and maintain the lean muscle tissue from your workouts then swap the sweets, unnecessary starches and processed foods with a few of the best lean protein sources below. Yum!