The Importance of Protein
By: Megan K. Turner, MS, RDN, LD, Dietitian
You may hear that protein is good for you, but do you really know why? Let’s explore protein foods and why they’re so important in our diet.
Foods that contain protein are mainly meat like beef, turkey, chicken, and fish, but protein is also found in eggs, dairy products, tofu, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Protein is made up of amino acids. These are the building blocks of our body. We need to eat protein to maintain lean body mass, rebuild muscle and other tissues, and repair and build new cells. Protein should make up about 10-35% of your daily calories. Therefore, a person eating 2,000 calories a day should eat at least 50g per day. If you are over age 65 or lift weights regularly, your protein needs will be higher.
Here are a few ways to increase the protein in your day. For breakfast try eating Greek yogurt topped with fruit and nuts. At lunch and dinner have an 8 ounce serving of low-fat milk. Another easy way to plan meals is to follow the My Plate method where half of the plate are non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of the plate is a meat or protein food, and the other quarter is a whole grain or starchy vegetable. For snacks try an apple with peanut butter, cheese with whole wheat crackers, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, nuts, or crunchy dried beans (Bada Bean Bada Boom brand). Including protein in your meals and snacks is a great way to help fight against hunger.
Megan is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who sees individuals for medical nutrition therapy counseling. She sees patients for diabetes management, weight management, GI disorders, and other various nutritional concerns. Fisher-Titus offers a medical nutrition therapy program designed to help you take control of your nutritional needs. For more information, visit fishertitus.org/nutrition or talk to your primary care provider about a referral.