All About Diet Food Protein

What is the best diet food protein?
When I create a meal or my menu plan for the week I think “what is going to be my protein?”
Seriously….that is how I think.
When I go to the supermarket I will put on my list “proteins”.

Why is protein so important?

I am going to try to keep this simple…….without adequate high protein foods in your diet it will be very difficult to keep and/or attain muscle growth (and I am not necessarily talking about muscle size but density).

Complete proteins contain essential amino acids which your body needs and it must be supplied by foods as our bodies do not create it.  To prevent muscle breakdown these amino acids must be readily available or your muscles can break down. 

Now you don’t want that because here you are trying so hard to get fit and lean but if you don’t feed yourself what your body requires then it will not be able to fully cooperate with you. 

Think of high protein foods like Miracle Grow.  Yes we can give a plant water and it will continue to survive – but give it water AND Miracle Grow and it will flourish!!

That is a very simplified answer – and the answer can be more detailed but for now let’s stick with the important diet food protein points. If you want your muscles to take shape, develop and then become a metabolic boosting machine – then you need to have complete proteins consistently in your diet.

In addition, high protein foods:
• Help keep you full and it is harder for your body to digest so it will actually increase your metabolism – also known as the TEF or Thermic Effect of Food
• It helps keep blood sugar levels stable – which is essential for fat loss
• It helps to decrease cravings


Ahhhh….a very good question!!  Here is a brief list for you of the proteins most commonly used for those on a fat loss, muscle building journey 

• Beef, Lean
• Buffalo
• Chicken Breast (occasionally dark meat)
• Clams, raw
• Crab
• Egg Whites or Whole Eggs
• Fish (Bass, Cod, Flounder, Halibut, Mackeral, Mahi-Mahi, Tuna, Trout, Tilapia, Salmon)
• Lamb
• Lobster
• Mussels
• Pork Tenderloin
• Protein Powders (Whey, Casein, Rice, Vegan, Hemp, Soy)
• Scallops
• Shrimp
• Tempeh (vegetarian protein)
• Tofu (vegetarian protein)
• Turkey

Ok, so this is a good list of diet food protein that should be a staple for most meals.  Occasionally I will go meatless but I will still have a source of protein with beans (which is an incomplete protein…..only made complete when paired with a grain like rice).

For more information on high protein foods visit this favorite site of mine.

How much diet food protein should I have? 

This has been a very longtime debated topic amongst top nutrition professionals, trainers, researchers, etc. Although the RDA suggest .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight to prevent protein depletion but it also very low. Then there are diets that suggest very high amounts of protein upwards to 40-45% sometimes (which I do not recommend).  Then who is right?  The best answer is neither…..

Everyone’s needs are different and there is not a standard answer which can apply to all.  But a standard and popular amount is to consume 30% of your total calorie intake to be protein.  So if your total calorie intake is 1700 calories then 30% of that can be protein.

1700 calories X .30% = 510
510 calories/4 calories per gram of protein = 127.5 grams of protein total for the day

Amounts are individual and based on individual needs.  Popular diets such as the ZONE and SOUTH BEACH DIET utilize a protein amount of 30% with carbs being at 40% and fats at 30%.
Another popular baseline ratio is 50-55% carbs, 30% protein and 15-20% fat.  Most people will do well losing fat on these ratios as long as they are in a calorie deficit.

OK this is all very overwhelming!!!
Yes, thinking about all that goes into food and trying to lose weight while working, managing a family,  working 2 jobs, etc. can be EXTREMELY overwhelming.  This is usually the reason people throw in the towel and just stick their head in the sand eventually emerging another 15lbs. heavier.

To make life easier try to prepare enough of high protein foods for a few days.  I always tell my clients to know what protein they want and have enough of it prepared to last a few days.  Then it is easy to add a carb and a veggie.

For example, I like to have about 2-3lbs. of chicken breast prepared either by grilling it in advance or roasting some. 
Then I like to make some tuna salad or egg muffins.  Then I know I have ready and available proteins that can be used in a variety of ways.

Just remember, progress NOT perfection.  If you manage getting in 3-4 servings of diet food protein a day and that’s more than you usually do – then that’s TERRIFIC.  We are all a work in progress and get better day by day.  Nobody walks out of the gate perfect the first time. 

Diet Food Protein Facts:

• Try to consume a lean, complete protein with each meal
• If you are carb sensitive and tend to gain weight on a higher carb diet then a higher protein diet may be suitable for you upward to 35-40% of protein.
• If you have any kidney issues/disease please check with your doctor or Registered Dietician for guidelines on the amounts you can consume as protein can be damaging to those who have any issues with their kidneys.
• Yes there is protein in veggies and beans – but keep in mind that it is not considered a complete protein since it is lacking 1 or more of the essential amino acids in a complete protein.
• Proteins cannot be stored in the body – and this is why it is so important to consume protein with each meal which will help aid synthesis (growth) of your muscles.

Now you should have a basic handle on the importance of using protein and how to implement it in your meals.  Time to take action!!

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