Aim for 0.5-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. That’s 70 grams for someone who weighs 140 pounds. Men usually need a bit more than women, but it’s often women who don’t get enough of this vital food group.
There are two main sources of protein:
- Animal protein comes from meats, eggs, and dairy, and originates from, you guessed it, animal products.
- Vegetable protein comes from non-animal sources like beans, nuts, legumes, and even certain vegetables.
So which protein source is better? Beef, chicken, beans — the truth is, your body can’t tell the difference between animal- or vegetable-based proteins. But it can tell the difference in their packaging, though. And this is precisely why these two sources are not created equal.
A 6 ounce serving of sirloin steak packs 48 grams of protein. But it also has 39 grams of fat, 15 of which are saturated — respectively, that’s 60% and 78% of your daily recommended daily allowance. A serving of chicken breast, on the other hand, delivers 35 grams of protein, but only 4 grams of fat and 1 gram of saturated fat. And a cup of cooked lentils has less than 1 gram of fat and boasts 18 grams of protein.
You don’t need to give up red meat completely. It’s perfectly fine to have a juicy steak every now and then (after all, puma cats like meat)! Red meat is an excellent source of iron, which is something you need, especially if you exercise. If you do eat meat, opt for lean cuts paired with lots of veggies.
Other sources of protein to consider
- Greek (European) yogurt: This thick and creamy treat has 7-20 grams of protein in a 6 ounce serving. Its smooth, thick texture makes it perfect for a filling breakfast or sweet-yet-tangy dessert. Serve it chilled with honey and/or fruit for extra vitamins and flavor. You can even throw in some almonds for an extra protein boost.
- Steel-cut oatmeal: The traditional breakfast favorite can have 7-10 grams of protein in ¼ cup serving of dry oats. Even better, it’s got plenty of fiber to keep you full all morning. Because steel-cut oats take up to 30-40 minutes to cook, it’s a good idea to cook a large pot at night, then reheat as much as you need the next day for breakfast or a snack.
- Fish: Fresh grilled or sautéed fish like wild salmon is an excellent source of protein because it contains those heart-healthy fish oils. Enjoy wild fish grilled with olive oil and lemon for a tasty dinner.
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