If you keep up with the latest in dietary advice, you can probably list a few reasons why protein is such an important nutrient. It’s necessary, of course, to help you build and maintain your muscle mass, and it’s also known to be a much better at filling you up than either fat or carbohydrate – which is why we suggest that people aim to have a good source of protein at each meal or snack. The idea is simply this: high carb meals don’t stay with you, while higher protein meals can help control hunger from one meal to the next. But here’s something else… a recent study by Heather Leidy1 suggests that a high protein breakfast not only helps control your appetite until the next meal, it might reduce unhealthy snacking in the evening.
Posts tagged: protein
Vegetarians are usually advised to eat slightly more protein than omnivores – this is to ‘make up’ for the slightly different makeup of the amino acids in the foods that are eaten – and also because of slight differences in digestibility between animal and plant proteins.
In truth, though, vegetarian diets can offer up plenty of protein, as long as they’re well-balanced. Let’s talk about the options.
Maybe you’ve decided you want to go meatless once in a while – it could be for health reasons, environmental reasons, or maybe you want to save a little cash. Even if you’re going meatless only occasionally, your meals will be more satisfying if you get a good dose of protein in. Milk products and eggs will work, of course, but if you want to go with strictly with plant-based proteins, you might be hard-pressed to think of anything beyond rice, beans or veggie burgers. So here’s a rundown of a few less well-known plant proteins that you might want to try.
Many people are familiar with tofu – it’s basically cheese that’s made from soy milk, and it’s available in textures ranging from very soft to very firm. Soft tofu works great in smoothies, while firmer tofu can be marinated and grilled for a tasty meat substitute. You can also freeze it – when you thaw it out, it releases its liquid and crumbles, so it makes a good substitute for ground meat. Calories and protein content vary – generally speaking, the firmer the tofu, the higher the protein content. Six ounces of extra-firm tofu has about 90 calories and 12 grams of protein.
If you’re resolving to eat more whole grains in the New Year, a good place to start might be with some whole grain pasta. In the past, our main decision in buying pasta was shape – did we want sinewy strands, or curly corkscrews? Nowadays, we’ve got delicious whole wheat pastas or noodles with spinach or tomato added, and we’ve got pasta made with rice, corn or quinoa. So how do these different noodles stack up?
Most people buy regular pasta – it’s made from a type of high-protein wheat – durum or semolina – that gives pasta its characteristic yellow hue. A serving – which is defined on the package as 2 ounces of dry pasta (about a cup cooked, depending on the shape) -– has about 200 calories, a trace of fat, about 2 grams of fiber and around 40 grams of carbohydrate. Not a bad deal, but if you switch to whole wheat pasta, you’ll save about 20 calories and more than triple your fiber per serving. That’s a great deal, nutritionally speaking. And those numbers look more impressive when you consider what people typically eat – not one cup of cooked pasta, but more like three.
If you’ve spent any time staring into the dairy case lately, there are enough milk choices to make your head spin. No longer is the decision simply whether to buy regular, reduced fat, low fat or skim – we’ve got goat’s milk, and milks made from soybeans, almonds, rice, oats and even hemp. But making nutritional comparisons among all these choices is no easy task.
Cow’s milk and goat’s milk are great protein sources, but some people can’t tolerate their natural lactose. Almond milk is lowest in calories, but it contains very little protein – and some brands can have a fair amount of salt. Hemp milk, although it provides some healthy omega-3 fatty acids, doesn’t offer much protein, either. Neither do rice or oat milk, but at least they’re naturally mild in flavor – so some might prefer them over soy milk which can be a tad bitter. So how do you choose?