What About The Carbs
If you are focusing on the protein percentage of your diet, do you have to be so strict about eating low carb?
The short answer is: it depends. It is completely up to you, your personal carb tolerance, your food likes and dislikes, and your health status.A higher protein percentage can make some people more metabolically flexible, enabling them to eat a moderate or liberal low-carb diet that includes nutritious carbs with low energy density. This can make the low-carb diet more sustainable for them over the long-term while still getting excellent health results in the form of weight, body fat, and blood sugar control.But note, this does not mean suddenly eating bread, pasta, rice and other highly processed carbs again. Rather, it is eating whole-food carbs like low-sugar fruit, sweet potato, beans, carrots, squash, and other nutritious, high-fiber fruit and vegetables.
I know that by discussing adding back in carbs, some avid low-carbers get very nervous or even upset. Cutting carbs has worked for you. Again, if very low carb is working for you, you do not need to change anything.However, if you want to try upping your carb intake, add vegetable or fruit carbs back in slowly and see how you do. If it spurs cravings or causes you to lose control of your diet, go back to stricter keto or low-carb foods.
Protein Helps With Fat Loss
Most people on keto will limit their protein to 30-40 grams, restrict their net carbs to 10-20 grams, then eat an excessive amount of fat. This is a common mistake.
If your goal is to lose fat, increased protein consumption is a great way to approach your keto diet plan. Heres why:
- Protein is more satiating than fat
- Protein is very nutrient-dense
- People tend to overeat when protein is low
Additionally, the most effective way to start losing weight on keto is to burn your stored body fat for energy, not the new dietary fat youre eating.
If you eat too much fat, your body will burn that new fat coming in and wont get the chance to burn your stored fat reserves.
You can overcome weight loss plateaus by increasing protein and lowering your fat consumption.
Its All About The Protein Package
When we eat foods for protein, we also eat everything that comes alongside it: the different fats, fiber, sodium, and more. Its this protein package thats likely to make a difference for health.
The table below shows a sample of food packages sorted by protein content, alongside a range of components that come with it.
To call out a few examples:
- A 4-ounce broiled sirloin steak is a great source of proteinabout 33 grams worth. But it also delivers about 5 grams of saturated fat.
- A 4-ounce ham steak with 22 grams of protein has only 1.6 grams of saturated fat, but its loaded with 1,500 milligrams worth of sodium.
- 4 ounces of grilled sockeye salmon has about 30 grams of protein, naturally low in sodium, and contains just over 1 gram of saturated fat. Salmon and other fatty fish are also excellent sources of omega-3 fats, a type of fat thats especially good for the heart.
- A cup of cooked lentils provides about 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber, and it has virtually no saturated fat or sodium.
What about protein powders?
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Top 10 Foods Highest In Protein
Protein is a macronutrient that forms the building blocks of the human body. It is necessary for the growth and repair of all tissues, along with many other functions including forming hormones and enzymes. A deficiency in protein leads to muscle atrophy and impaired functioning of the body in general.
Daily Protein Foods Table
*These are general recommendations by age. Find the right amount for you by getting your MyPlate Plan.
|Daily Recommendation* in Ounce-Equivalents|
3 to 5½ oz-equiv
5 to 6½ oz-equiv
5 to 6½ oz-equiv
5½ to 7 oz-equiv
5 to 6½ oz-equiv
5 to 6 oz-equiv
6½ to 7 oz-equiv
6 to 7 oz-equiv
5½ to 6½ oz-equiv
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The Bottom Line: Are You Eating Enough High
In this case, the better question might be are you eating enough types of protein-rich foods? After all, according to a 2018 analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, most adults exceed the recommended intake of proteinconsuming an average of 88 grams a day. As we said before, theres no one-size-fits-all recommended protein intake. But for comparison, most women need around 46 grams of protein per day, and men need 56 grams, according to the USDAs recent dietary guidelines. You may be getting enough of the macronutrient, not all sources are created equalproteins can be lean or high in saturated fats.
Case in point: The amount of protein in a pork chop and piece of salmon are similar, but the pork has more than three times the saturated fat. Similarly, beef and certain cheeses are typically higher in saturated fat, which can raise bad cholesterol levels and have been linked to increased risk of heart disease or stroke. Current guidelines recommend limiting saturated fat intake, but that doesnt mean you have to revamp your entire eating style. Instead, consider incorporating more healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, and seafood to your diet.
Nicole Saporita is a senior content manager for consumer wellness at WW. A writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York, she specializes in health & wellness, lifestyle, consumer products, and more. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Prevention, and REDBOOK magazines.
Nut Butters And Seeds
Adding peanut, cashew, or almond butter is one of the simple ways that could help add to the protein content in your oatmeal. Peanut butter can add an impressive 8 grams of protein to your oatmeal.
Apart from almond butter and peanut butter you could also look at other types of nuts and butters depending on your taste buds and personal preferences. Sunflower butter and tahini are a few palatable choices that we really enjoy, stick to unsweetened products so that you can have better control over your sugar intake.
Chia, flax and hemp seeds are some additional options that can be eaten raw and a garnish, or you can cook quinoa with the oats for more diversity.
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Eat More Fish And Shellfish
Which types are best? Since nearly all seafood is high in protein yet low in fat and carbs, the choice is up to you.
However, if you want to maximize protein per calorie, shrimp, crab, and lobster are your best shellfish options. Indeed, more than 85% of their calories come from protein. Whitefish halibut, flounder, and tilapia, among others also have impressive protein percentages of around 80% or more.
Even fatty fish like salmon and sardines provide more protein and less fat than many types of meat. If possible, go for wild-caught salmon, which contains far less fat than farmed salmon.
Although seafood can be pricey, canned fish and shellfish are economical and convenient. As a bonus, all canned salmon is wild-caught rather than farmed.
Bottom line? Select seafood based on personal preference, availability, and your budget. The only types to avoid or strictly limit are fish very high in mercury, such as King mackerel, bigeye tuna, swordfish, and shark.
If you like, add your favorite herbs, some Greek yogurt, or a squeeze of lemon to enhance flavor. Adding a small amount of mayonnaise or a vinaigrette to canned tuna can improve taste and reduce dryness.
Also, be sure to try our delicious high-protein seafood recipes:
Here’s How Much Protein To Eat In A Day
In order to determine how much protein you should have in a day, we spoke with Rachel Paul, PhD, RD from CollegeNutritionist.com to get some insight. “The US national recommendations say that the Dietary Reference Intake for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound,” says Paul. “So a person would multiply their body weight in pounds by 0.36. For a 150 pound person, this person should eat at least 54 grams of protein.”
Now typically a serving size of meat is about 4 to 5 oz. According to a handout published by the Nutrition Department at Johns Hopkins Medicine, protein from animal meat will give you 28 grams of protein per a 4 oz. serving. Some seafood has a smaller countlike crabmeat, shrimp, and lobsterwhich provides 24 grams of protein per a 4 oz. serving.
This means that at least 2 or 3 servings of meat will give you a sufficient amount of protein you need in one day. So in order to consume that much protein, we did a dive into other higher protein sources you can easily find at the store that are not directly connected to meat production.
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Include A High Protein Food With Every Meal
When it comes to protein, its not just the total amount you take in every day that matters. Getting enough at each meal is also important.
Several researchers recommend consuming a minimum of 2030 grams of protein at each meal.
Studies show that this amount promotes fullness and preserves muscle mass better than smaller amounts eaten throughout the day .
Examples of foods high in protein include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, and soy products like tofu or tempeh.
You can also select foods from this list of delicious high protein foods to make sure you meet your needs at every meal.
Include a high protein food at each meal to get what you need to feel full and maintain muscle mass.
Protein Bars Are Really Just Candy Bars With A Bit Of Extra Protein
Indeed, research on the muscle-building power of protein supplements is varied. A 2014 analysis of 36 papers found that protein supplements have no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the first few weeks of resistance training in untrained individuals.
Over time and if the training becomes harder, supplements can promote muscle growth. However, the paper also concludes that these changes have not been proven over the long term. A 2012 review paper further says that protein increases physical performance, training recovery and lean body mass but for the benefit to be optimal, it should be in combination with a fast-acting carbohydrate.
But even if athletes and gym goers may benefit from a post-workout protein boost, that doesnt mean they should reach for the supplements and smoothies. Most people get more than their daily recommended allowance from food, says Kevin Tipton, a sport professor of the University of Stirling. Theres no need for anyone to have supplements. Theyre a convenient way to get protein, but theres nothing in supplements you cant get in food. Protein bars are really just candy bars with a bit of extra protein.
The global protein supplements market was valued at $12.4bn in 2016
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Athletes And Protein Needs
Even athletes have higher needs. Provided the remodeling process of muscle proteins, there is a much higher turn over rate as a result of higher training volumes.
- Specifically, in track and field athletes, it would be wise to consume roughly 1.6 grams per kilogram of body mass each day if their goal is to increase muscle and prevent muscle breakdown.
- A proper target protein intake should be between 1.6 and 2.4 grams per kilogram of body mass per day, as cited in recent findings in a consensus statement on Sports Nutrition for Track and Field Athletes. A summary of the review can be accessed here.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand on protein and exercise provides an objective and critical review related to the protein intake for health and fitness-oriented individuals. For building muscle mass and maintaining muscle mass:
- The overall protein intake of 1.4-2.0 g/kg body weight/day is enough.
- There is evidence to support to support positive effects on body composition in strength-trained athletes to promote lean mass gains.
- It is optimal to spread out protein intake between 20-40 g/meal throughout the day.
- As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I strive to consume to support my health and performance goals.
Go Old School With Snacks
Remember when youd hop off the school bus and your mom would have some snacks waiting for you? You didnt know it then, but those ants on a log were actually a way to keep you from munching on sweets before dinner time. Snack on two tablespoons of natural peanut butter with a banana or celery sticks. A peanut butter snack can add 8 grams of protein to your day, Lesht explains. If you still love the ants part, add no more than a tablespoon of raisins, as theyre pretty high in sugar. Cant eat peanut butter? Try hummus.
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How Much Protein To Eat On Keto
The Standard American Diet is dense in carbs, with some protein and very little fat. On keto, you take a seemingly opposite approach, with the bulk of your calories coming from fat, some calories coming from protein, and very few from carbohydrates.
While every person has individual needs, most people follow these macronutrient guidelines to enter ketosis:
- 75-80% of calories should come from fat
- 20% of calories should come from protein
- 5% of calories should come from carbohydrates
This is a common way to break down your macros on the ketogenic diet. And while it may help you to start producing ketones, it may not be the most effective approach for overall body composition and weight loss.
Instead of setting up macronutrient percentages, theres a better alternative.
Smoked Salmon And Boursin Cheese Frittata
Protein Punch: 16 gramsYou’ll Need: Eggs, 2% milk, light sour cream, kosher salt, pepper, diced red onion, light Boursin cheese, smoked salmon, extra-virgin olive oil, chives
It’s no secret that eggs are the classic protein-packing breakfast many people turn to each day to kickstart their morning. While mastering the art of creating the perfect scramble is always commendable, there are plenty of other ways to cook up eggs for an even more filling meal. That’s where our smoked salmon frittata with Boursin cheese comes into play. This recipe is easy to make and ready in just a few minutes.
Protein Punch: 10 gramsYou’ll Need: Eggs, 2% milk, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, turkey or chicken sausage, salt, pepper, frozen pie crust
Most quiches suffer the burden of excessive amounts of heavy cream and cheese. This quiche dispenses with the heavy dose of dairy fat and instead gets its flavor and substance from antioxidant-dense sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and lean protein-packed chicken sausage.
Get our recipe for Artichoke Feta Quiche.
Protein Punch: 20 gramsYou’ll Need: Canned chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, yellow onion, rosemary, salt, mushrooms and asparagus
Protein Punch: 12 gramsYou’ll Need: Rolled-cut oats, milk, peanut butter, maple syrup, chia seeds
Get our recipe for Peanut Butter Overnight Oats.
Protein Punch: 22 gramsYou’ll Need: Ezekiel toast, peanut butter, chia seeds, honey, banana
Eat This, Not That!
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Why Do Seniors Need A High Protein Diet
Protein is one of the foundational nutrients that make up your body. Every cell in your body relies on protein to function including:
Protein is essential for healing, building and repairing cells and body tissue. You need protein to:
- Heal from injuries
- Keep your fluid levels in balance
- Recover from surgery or illness
- Maintain healthy vision
- Balance your hormones and digestive enzymes
Without protein, your body starts to break down muscle mass and bone strength. Research has found that seniors are not able to use protein as easily as younger people, so their bodies may need more protein to meet its needs.
A diet high in protein can protect you from losing muscle, and muscle is important because you require the use of your muscles for everything you do.
Strong bones and muscles allow you to get out of a chair, walk to the store, do yard work, go dancing, or play with your grandchildren. Even simple tasks like pulling on your socks and getting out of the shower are made easier by healthy and strong muscles.
As we age, it is normal to lose muscle mass, but a loss of strength can also cause you to fall. You may also be more susceptible to illness and injury.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that seniors were not getting enough protein, with 6% of men over 71 and 4-6% of women over 50 not getting the recommended amounts of protein.
Measure Results Not Ketones
If your goal is to maintain optimal energy levels and achieve a lean physique, you should not worry about continually tracking your ketone levels.
Instead, focus on long-term lean tissue growth.
Ketone production is not the only metric to track when gauging your success on the ketogenic diet.
Looking at the mirror, measuring your lean body mass, and assessing your energy levels are excellent ways to determine the effectiveness of your diet because producing ketones doesnt always mean youre burning them for energy.
When you first start the ketogenic diet, your body may be excreting excess ketones through your breath and urine. Often, these ketones arent being used for energy because your mitochondria havent adapted to processing ketones effectively.
The longer you follow the keto diet, the more efficient your body becomes at using ketones as its primary fuel source.
This is why many keto-adapted people will have slightly lower ketone levels . Their body isnt flushing out excess ketones its using them.
Building lean mass over time is a better indicator of keto success because it proves that youre burning off your bodys fat storages for energy.
The bottom line is that unless youre following the keto diet to help with severe health conditions like cancer or Alzheimers disease, maintaining high ketone levels should not be a priority for you. Instead, track your overall body composition, lean tissue growth, and energy levels.
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