Would you like some protein with that?
When I ask clients to describe what they eat each day one thing that usually stands out is how little protein they eat. Their day starts off with breakfast cereal or a piece of toast and apart from an egg in a salad or some meat or cheese in a sandwich there can be little or no protein until dinner.
We should all be eating .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. So if you weigh 65 kgs you need about 52 grams of protein a day. If you are active you need even more – closer to one gram per kilogram of body weight. Aim to consume at least 25 per cent of your daily calories from protein – ideally it would be up around 30 per cent.
Why do we want to eat plenty of protein? Protein rich foods make you feel satisfied for longer. Researchers have discovered that high levels of protein boost the hormone called leptin (the hormone that makes you feel satisfied) and reduce the level of the hormone ghrelin which makes you feel hungry.
The answer is not to eat a huge steak at night. The body can only absorb about 30 grams of protein at a time. You need to be eating some protein with each meal and include protein in your snacks.
Next time you look at a food label – rather than zeroing in on the sugar, the carbs or the fat have a look at how many grams of protein a realistic serving will contain. Every time you sit down for a meal or a snack think about what protein you will include.
Easy sources of protein include:
Beef, Pork, Fish and Chicken – one palm sized serving will contain between 20 and 25 grams of protein;
Eggs – each egg has about 7 grams of protein;
Oats (good for breakfast if you don’t want eggs) – small serving contains 5 grams of protein (more if you add milk and chia seeds);
Greek yoghurt – 17 grams per serving (170 gram tub);
Cottage cheese – a handy one to have in the fridge to add to any meal – one cup contains 28 grams of protein;
Nuts – a small portion (30 grams) contains around 6 grams of protein; and
Cheese – one slice of cheddar cheese contains about 7 grams of protein.
Try focussing on protein for a week and see if it makes a difference.