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Why I Started Eating More Protein

Turns out veggies are truly something I enjoy and is the very first thing my fork will touch on my plate- ever since I can remember. I love the crunch, texture, color, taste and how filing they are. But that is not exactly a balanced way to eat. At 19 I was diagnosed with familial high cholesterol-ugh! being that young, slim and active I overhauled my eating and moved away from animal meats and gravitated toward more fiber and low fat. Fast forward 25 years later I stopped eating my favorite protein source- dried beans and then dairy due to intolerance issues. This was a big shift in protein decline for me.

At age 48 came my "something is not so right" physical changes that made me research what may be lacking in my eating. I was having late day energy slump and brain fog, body fat percentage increased, declining muscle tone and moderate weight gain. Let me mention that I remained very physically active but I'll admit a desk job in that time for 7 years did not help. I'm a very typical aging woman- you see.

Turns out despite national protein obsession, many of us may not be eating sufficient protein. Our diets run too high on the carbohydrates sources (sugar, fruit, breads, cereals, pastas, rice, milk). Buying into less protein is best- I was falling short. The potential benefits of higher protein intake, researchers now argue, include preserving muscle strength despite aging and maintaining a lean, fat-burning physique. Some studies suggest that protein is more effective if you space it out over the day’s meals and snacks, rather than loading up at dinner like many Americans do. Based on recent research, eating up to twice the RDA(Recommended Daily Allowance) of protein “is a safe and good range to aim for" according to the Harvard School of Public Health. This equates roughly to 15% to 25% of total daily calories, although it could be above or below this range depending on your age, sex, and activity level. Two simple steps I took to increase my protein by 15 -20 grams more per day well within the recommendation for me. I took 2 simple steps:

  1. Changed to a power packed protein breakfast. I started having a breakfast with 10-20 grams of protein using eggs, beans, almond butter, walnuts or protein powder in my smoothie. Then I add a lean protein source to lunch as well relying on fish, lentils, chicken breast mostly.

  2. Added protein into snacks throughout the day with Greek yogurt, almonds, nut butters or cheese sticks. My favorite is trail mix with nuts and seeds

How much protein do you need? Try this online calculator. Those with renal(kidney) and or liver concerns should caution and maintain a low protein diet. Otherwise if you share any of my concerns- then check that you are eating enough protein and spread it throughout the day for better results. It's made a healthier difference along with changing my exercise routine.

Insulin Resistance/Pre-diabetes note: Your child may benefit from a breakfast that include protein (10-15 grams at meals). Consult a dietitian on balance meal planning for kids.

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