I have read that if there was one macro-nutrient that Americans get too much of, it’s protein. I would tend to agree. We are meant to have between 45-55 g of protein daily. The average American eats twice as much protein as they need, and our obesity rates verify that. Though most obesity is related to high fats and sugar/fructose intake, too much protein can also add on the pounds. Also, the body needs a lot of calcium (such as found in greens) to absorb protein. If you don’t have enough calcium in the foods you are eating, the body will take the calcium from your bones. Long term high protein can cause bone loss and weakness.
Don't get me wrong, Protein is needed in the body to help build cells and muscle and to provide essential amino acids. These amino acids are the building blocks for neuro-transmitters like serotonin and dopamine that help combat depression and anxiety. Pretty important stuff to say the least...
So how should we eat protein and when?
Let’s look at what protein is available and from what. Obviously meat is going to have a great deal of protein, but along with meat, you will also find saturated fat which is bad for your heart and waistline. And, the body cannot process more than 30g of protein at a time, so a huge steak? Not even going to be able to use all that protein.
A List of Some Items and their Protein grams:
- Hamburger patty 4oz. - 28g
- Steak 6 oz - 42g
- Chicken 3.5 oz - 30g
- Fish 3.5 oz - 22g
- Beans 1/3 cup - 8g
- Egg- 6-9g (depending on size and type)
- Tofu ½ cup - 20g
- Cottage Cheese ½ cup - 15g
- Greek Yogurt - some have 9g per serving, others up to 23g (hard to say on this one)
- Peanut butter 2 tbsp - 8g
- Almonds ¼ cup - 8g
So how do we work that into a day?
- Breakfast: 2 egg omelet with spinach - 16g
- Lunch: Salad with chicken breast and veggies - 30g
- Dinner: Black bean burger with arugula, tomato and avocado with a side of rice - 8g
- Total - 54g
So even without beef and only having meat once a day, you are full of diverse and healthy proteins. Just remember that if you are vegetarian, to create a whole protein to get those amino acids, you have to have a grain like rice or quinoa (which also has protein) with your beans. Lentils are a great choice along with organic fermented soy products like miso or tempeh.
Eat your protein regularly throughout the day from a variety of sources.