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The Power of Protein

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD Wellness Services Corporate Dietitian


Jan 4th, 2018

Pasta Salad

It’s time to put failed fad diets behind us! Instead, this year, we are all about the power of protein and making small changes that will last a lifetime. While many diets will warn against the hazards of sugars and carbs, we are focusing on how lean and healthful protein-rich foods in every meal can help put the weight loss odds in our favor. Who’s with us?

Read on for what we know about the benefits of protein in meals and snacks and how you can easily incorporate powerful proteins into your New Year plan!

Building and Preserving Muscle Mass

Protein is vital to building and repairing body tissues and muscles. So, it’s not surprising to hear including more protein in your meals seems to preserve muscle mass which helps prevent the metabolic slowdown that often occurs with weight loss. This recipe for Oven Fried Lemon Chicken Bites will help add protein to any meal or snack and tastes delicious!

Lemon Chicken Tenders

Distributing Protein Throughout the Day

Getting high-quality protein in equal amounts throughout the day is important to building and preserving muscle mass as we age, by helping our bodies absorb protein better and more efficiently. Generally, 20-30 grams of protein per meal is thought to trigger muscle growth, although more research is needed. Even faves like pizza can contribute up to 30 grams of protein when made thoughtfully! Take your pizza night to a whole new level with this recipe for Protein-Packed Pizza, complete with a cheesy cauliflower crust. The whole family will LOVE this fun dish!

Protein-Packed Pizza

Feeling Full and Satisfied

Getting the ideal amount of protein in meals and snacks may decrease hunger and make you feel fuller longer. Eating protein seems to decrease levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, while increasing production of hormones that help us feel full and satisfied. Keep in mind, because solid protein foods usually take longer to digest, they promote fullness better than liquid protein sources. Fill up on this High Protein Pasta Salad featuring a variety of solid protein sources!

High Protein Pasta Salad

Protein at Breakfast

On average, Americans consume about 12 grams of protein at breakfast. This is just half of what is considered ideal by many experts who suggest ample protein in the morning may give an extra boost to weight control. This may be partly due to an enhanced feeling of fullness and possibly better blood sugar levels throughout the day. Just one tiny egg adds 6 grams of quality protein to your meal, along with 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including hard-to-get vitamin D, carotenoid plant compounds that help preserve eye function and choline, a nutrient that may benefit your brain and memory. This Southwest Style Quick Quiche offers 22 grams of protein per serving and is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Southwest Style Quick Quiche

Nutritious Protein-Rich Foods

The ideal protein-packed meal is low in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates with a good portion of the meal (and sometimes the protein) coming from plant-based foods. Reach for high-quality proteins like fish, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy foods and lean meats. On the plant-based side, opt for soybeans/edamame, tofu, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds and try substituting whole grains like quinoa, kamut, whole wheat and oats whenever possible. This recipe for No Boil High Protein Lasagna is filled with high-quality proteins like extra lean beef, whole wheat noodles and two types of cheeses. Yum!

No Boil High Protein Lasagna

For more New Year recipes inspiration and protein-packed dishes, check out our Pinterest page!

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