We all know the traditional way to get protein – meat! When we think of protein what typically comes to mind? Prior to my education and training as a Licensed and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist my answers would have likely looked like most of your answers – beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb…all of the traditional animal based proteins. Now my mind thinks more along the lines of things like salmon, black beans, eggs, chickpeas, lentils, hemp seeds, nuts, the possibilities are endless!
When it comes to choosing and consuming protein, amount and type is important. For most people, the palm of the hand (after cooking) is enough protein at meals. This is basically the amount that I showed you guys on the plate! We need protein as it is the building blocks for our bones, muscles, cartilage, blood, skin, enzymes, hormones, vitamins…basically EVERYTHING.
We just want to monitor how much we are taking in as anything in excess can have the opposite effect (i.e. too much calories, too much saturated fat). The types of proteins are important as well as they all have different benefits. Regardless of whatever type you are choosing, if it is animal protein you want to choose the leaner cuts as it will help cut down on saturated fat, a known contributor to higher cholesterol.
Here on balanced, I want you guys to get out of your comfort zones. Before you click that little red “X” on the top of this page to close this screen – HEAR ME OUT! I’m not asking you to stop eating meat if you do not want to. You can still benefit from plant based diets and still eat meat!
What I am asking you to do is switch it up! Get crazy and try new plant based meals maybe once or twice a week (can we say Meatless Monday)! By varying your proteins you’re able to receive different benefits like more omega 3s to help prevent heart disease (seafood, walnuts, flaxseeds, eggs fortified with omega 3s), heme iron (red meat, vitamin B12 (meat, poultry, fish, and dairy), zinc to help with immune health (meat, shellfish, beans, lentils, nuts), and many more. So when you vary the type of proteins you get the best of both worlds! See…all about the balance