By Shannon Crocker, RD,
Do you get enough protein for optimal health?
According to the latest Canadian Community Health Survey most Canadians are meeting protein needs for basic functions, but there’s some room to improve. About 17% of our calories are coming from protein – which is on the lower end of the daily recommendation of 10-35% of calories.
There could be room for a little more protein on your plate.
Why do we need protein?
Protein is an essential nutrient that gets a lot of attention when discussion focusses on health and nutrition. The discussion is for good reason. Every single cell in your body needs protein.
Three reasons to put protein on your plate:
1. Protein powers your body.
You need protein to make hormones, enzymes, antibodies and to build healthy muscle, hair, skin and nails. Protein supports a healthy immune system too. It bears repeating: every cell in your body needs protein!
2. Protein delivers energizing satisfaction.
A protein-rich meal can help you feel satisfied/full longer than one filled mostly with carbohydrates. That’s partly because protein increases hormones that signal your brain that you feel full.
3. Protein boosts muscle health.
Protein helps keep your muscles strong and healthy. Emerging research shows that higher protein intakes at meals (along with exercise) are linked with maintaining lean muscle mass as you age.
Where do you get protein?
You can get easily more than enough protein from food – expensive powders, formula drinks or shakes are unnecessary.
Protein is readily available in a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as:
• Lean meat, fish and poultry
• Legumes: dried beans (e.g. black beans), peas and lentils
• Milk, cheese and yogurt (Greek yogurt is especially high in protein)
• Nuts, seeds and nut/seed butters
• Tofu and soy beverage
As a general rule of thumb, try to include at least one protein-rich food at each meal and aim to fill up about one quarter of your plate with protein.
Need more ideas for pumping up the protein?
- Breakfast is a Prime Time to Pump up the Protein on Your Plate.
- 3 Tasty Plant Based Burgers
- Spicy and Sweet Chicken Cashew Stir Fry
- Light Lemony Spring Herb Hummus