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Meghan Tiernan (MS, RD, LDN) is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle. She strives to help others learn the most nutritious way to eat, in order to achieve good health. Meghan enjoys cooking and running and believes that with just some basic knowledge, you can gain the confidence in yourself to know that you can eat well.

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Dietitian Consult

 
by Meghan Tiernan, MS, RD, LDN

 
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Protein. It’s a big word in the weight loss world. There have even been whole diets devoted to the consumption of protein with little or no consideration of the other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fat). While protein is definitely an important part of any diet, especially a weight loss plan, the question becomes, how much do you really need?

The benefits of protein consumption with meals have been well studied. It’s been shown to slow down digestion, keeping you fuller longer after a meal, keeps your metabolism revved and helps maintain or improve muscle function and storage. The average person needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. For example, a 150 pound woman (68.2 kilograms) should consume about 55 grams of protein daily. While you can certainly exceed your recommended protein needs in a day, you want to make sure you’re still getting a well balanced diet. Having the majority of your calories coming from protein can throw off your body’s balance. We all need a diet that includes carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to provide adequate nutrients for all the body’s functions.

To ensure you’re getting a well balanced diet, think about it this way: Think of your plate as being divided into three parts. Make one half of your plate vegetables, and split the other half in half, making room for protein and grains.

Reaching your protein goals are easy - here are a few ways to incorporate protein into your diet: Add low fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or 1 egg (2 egg whites) for breakfast. For snacks, include low fat string cheese, 2 tablespoons of nut butter or ¼ cup of nuts to boost your protein intake. For lunch and dinner, make sure to include a lean protein such as 3 ounces of chicken, fish, lean ground meat, tofu or legumes and beans to your meal.

Protein in numbers:
Breakfast:
1 egg (6 grams)
1 slice whole wheat toast
1 cup skim milk (9 grams)
1 piece of fruit

Lunch:
3 ounces grilled chicken (21 grams)
2 cups salad with veggies
2 tablespoons oil and vinegar
½ low carb pita

Snack:
1 slice cheese (6 grams)
6 crackers

Dinner:
1 cup brown rice
½ cup beans (8 grams)
2 cups steamed vegetables

Snack:
2 tablespoons nut butter or ¼ cup nuts (8 grams)
1 piece of fruit

Total protein: 58 grams protein

Remember, at the end of the day it’s more about how much you’re eating than what you’re eating. Even protein has calories so just because your diet is packed with protein doesn’t mean you can stop counting calories. Eating a moderate amount of protein in conjunction with fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and whole grains along with physical activity will not only lead to weight loss but an all-together healthier lifestyle.

I hope you've found these tips helpful -

Happy, healthy eating!

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