The Power of Protein!April 20, 2015
Have you ever wondered why protein is so important for weight management, weight loss surgery, and plastic surgery?
First of all, protein increases satiety (the feeling of fullness and satisfaction), which helps decrease physical hunger and snacking between meals!
Secondly, your body actually burns more calories when you eat protein because of the thermogenesis effect of food (the amount of energy your body burns to break down the nutrients into usable parts) is higher for protein compared to carbohydrates and fats.
Thirdly, protein helps to build muscle and protect muscle from deterioration during weight loss. This provides a leaner body and increases the bodies resting metabolic rate because lean muscle requires the body to work harder to maintain compared to fat.
Be aware: Not all protein sources are created equal
Protein foods are found in animal meats, animal products and some plant-based foods. Animal protein and protein from animal products are absorbed very well in the body, but can also contain a lot of fat, particularly the cholesterol-raising saturated fats, if you are not careful.
Plant-based proteins can provide a low-fat alternative to animal meat and animal products. However, some plant-based proteins may be high in fat and calorie density (high calorie, low volume) and not as high in protein as you may think. Let's take a look!
When choosing animal meat and animal products as your protein source, choose lean, low-fat and fat-free sources. Fat and saturated fat are found in the dark meat and skin of animal meat. To avoid these heart-unhealthy fats and calories choose white, skinless meat like chicken breast, turkey breast, pork tenderloin, pork sirloin, fish, and shellfish.
In general, most lean animal meat contains about 7 grams of protein, 0-3 grams of fat and about 45 calories per one ounce. A 3 ounce portion at a meal would provide about 21 grams of protein, 0-9 grams of fat and 135 calories. When looking to add additional protein from cheese, milk, and yogurt, choose the low-fat and fat-free versions.
For example, 5 ounces of light Greek yogurt contains 12-14 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat and 80-100 calories; ½ cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains 14 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 90 calories; and 1 medium egg contains 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and 70 calories.
Nuts, beans, and legumes also provide protein and can vary in fat content and calories. For example, one ounce or 2 tbsp of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat and 210 calories. A 3 oz serving of peanut butter has 24 grams of protein, 51 grams of fat and 630 calories.
If we compare this to a lean animal meat, there is a minimal difference in protein, but 495 more calories than the lean meat option! When choosing non-meat protein sources choose options that are lower in fat and calories! For example, ½ cup of beans or lentils contains 6-9 grams of protein, 0-2 grams of fat and 80-135 calories. Veggie burgers contain 10-15 grams of protein, 3-6 grams of fat and 80-140 calories per serving.
To consume adequate protein each day, try eating 3 oz of lean meat at lunch and supper. Flavor and moisten the meats with tomato or peach salsa, low sodium broth, sugar-free jelly or marmalade, lemon or limes. For breakfast, try 2 boiled eggs or 1 egg and 1 soy sausage patty or a light Greek yogurt or ½ cup of low-fat cottage cheese. Add a low-fat string cheese or 8 oz of low-fat milk for a total of over 60 grams of protein for the day!
Meat and non-meat protein sources provide many benefits for weight management and weight loss surgery patients. Be careful and choose wisely. Knowledge is power!
Share your favorite sources of protein in the comments!
ABOUT THE AUTHORJennifer Clark, MS, RD, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian who specializes in bariatric surgery, weight management, diabetes and cardiovascular health and currently works as the Clinical Dietitian at Bariatric Innovations of Atlanta. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Greater Atlanta Area Dietetic Association, the Georgia State Dietetic Association and the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group.
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