Healthy Lifestyle Tip: The Power of Protein
In a study published in Nutrition Metabolism, dieters who increased their protein intake to 30 percent of their diet ate nearly 450 fewer calories a day. Without employing any other dietary measures, the dieters lost about 11 pounds over the 12-week study. Experts advise consuming between 0.8 grams and 1.1 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. That's 112 grams to 154 grams a day for a 140-pound woman. Skew on the high end if you're very active and on the low end if you're trying to lose weight. If both apply, shoot for an amount somewhere in the middle around 130 grams.
Even more important is to aim to get at least 30 of those grams at breakfast, says Donald Layman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois. (That's roughly the amount you'll get from two eggs and a cup of cottage cheese.) After fasting all night, your body is running on empty and may start drawing on muscle tissue for fuel if you don't replenish its protein stores first thing in the morning. In addition, studies have found that protein-rich breakfasts can help regulate your appetite all day.
However, not all proteins are created equal, says Kruskall. While nuts, whole grains, and veggies technically count, they don't contain all nine of the amino acids your body needs in order to build lean muscle. Those that do, known as complete proteins, are typically found in animal products. Your best flat-belly bets are skinless white chicken or turkey, seafood, low-fat dairy and lean beef. All of these foods have just 1 to 3 grams of fat per 50-calorie serving.
Vegetarians can get complete proteins by noshing on tofu, hemp seed, buckwheat, and quinoa. Or they can combine two incomplete proteins, such as peanut butter on whole-wheat bread or brown rice and beans, to create a complete protein. The beauty of protein is that with so many tasty options, getting your daily dose is a simple pleasure.
Protein on the go
Roasted soy nuts
Protein powder added to yogurt, water or milk