The Power of Protein in Our Diets

Tonya Baise, Nutritionist

Tonya Baise. Wife, fit mom, and nutrition expert.

We’ve all heard of the popular “high protein/low carb” diets including Adkins, Southbeach, Slow Carb Diet, etc. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to figure out which diet or philosophy is best or how much protein we REALLY need for our bodies! The positive side about many of these diets and philosophies is that they recognize that simple carbs (and even some complex carbs) will cause weight gain if not eaten in moderation. However, these high protein diets seem to miss the point about why our bodies really need protein, and how to eat both protein and complex carbs in moderation.

Protein is made up of 25 amino acids — the building blocks of the body. Amino acids are essential for growth, to repair body tissue, to make hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and help move substances around the body. But how much protein is enough protein? I would recommend 10-20% of your total calorie intake, or 35-40 grams of protein a day (unless pregnant, recovering from surgery, or doing large amounts of exercise…then you would need more) for the average adult. Too much protein is hard work on the kidneys.

The best protein sources would include: eggs, quinoa, soybeans, meat, fish, beans, and lentils.

Power of ProteinWhen considering meat, choose lean cuts. Try to buy meat that does not include antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticide dips. Their are many organic meat farmers in most parts of the country as well as brands now offered in grocery stores (like Kroger, Health Foods Unlimited, and Trader Joe’s). One of the best sources of protein is fish. I would recommend wild Pacific salmon, Atlantic salmon, sardines (limiting to a few times a month tuna and swordfish because of the potential for mercury toxins in their systems). Fish is also high in essential fats which is a must in a healthy diet.

Try to get most of your protein through “seed” vegetable sources and beans, lentils, quinua and soy.

Wishing you Health and Wellness,

Tonya Baise

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