Protein is an essential nutrient in our diet. Unfortunately, most women aren’t eating enough protein to optimize their nutrition. Protein promotes healthy weight loss, makes you feel fuller for longer and helps build muscle. (Think sexy, lean arms, legs and abs!) Here are some great protein sources and tips and meal ideas for how to add them to your daily meals.
Serving size: 4-6 oz
Protein per 4-oz serving: 29 g
Salmon is not only full of protein, but it is also one of the best natural sources for omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s may help aid in weight loss by improving glucose sensitivity, reducing insulin resistance, reducing markers of inflammation, and speeding up fat oxidation, says Tanya Zuckerbot RD, author of The F-Factor Diet.
Tips: Always go for natural salmon over farm raised or buy from your local sea food monger for the freshest catch. The highest grade salmon can have 20 percent more protein and less fat.
Meal ideas: There are so many options with this versatile fish. Try grilling it with the skin on, pan sear on the stove or even bake in the oven. Add some Cajun spices or teriyaki and garlic to take your taste buds up a notch. Roast some Brussels sprouts with olive oil and toss up some romaine with avocado and strawberry slices and you have one fantastic meal!
Serving size: 4-6 oz
Protein per 4-oz serving: 19 g
Turkey is a good source of the amino acid leucine, which plays a role in blood sugar levels and insulin function. By keeping your sugars steady, you are less likely to binge on other foods in attempt to feel better.
Tips: Choose the leanest white meat to maximize protein and minimize fat. Boneless and skinless options contain the fewest grams of fat and are low in calories. If choosing deli turkey meat, choose lower sodium, nitrate-free options. Deli meats tend to be high in sodium, which can lead to water retention and bloating.
Meal ideas: I use turkey in so many dinners; go for ground turkey as a substitute to beef in all your recipes. Turkey meatloaf, turkey burgers, turkey tacos with a taco seasoning package or turkey in whole wheat spaghetti are all amazing options and healthy versions of our most beloved foods. Jazz up some turkey burgers with sauteed mushrooms and onions and even some homemade guacamole for a gourmet flare.
Serving size: 2 oz
Protein per serving: 13 g
Tuna is very lean and only has 60 calories per serving, it also packs vitamin D which helps with calcium absorption to build up your bones.
Tips: Always buy tuna in water versus oil. When you drain canned tuna in oil, some of the omega-3’s can go down the drain. Also, oil can turn an otherwise healthy lean source of protein into a protein loaded with fat and calories. Also be aware of adding high-fat mayo which can add many calories to this healthy fish.
Meal ideas: Tuna melt anyone? On whole grain bread and tuna mixed with tomato, pickles, minced garlic, onion and light mayo and topped with light cheese, this sandwich will satisfy all your cravings. For an easy but impressive dinner, I stuff avocados with the same combination of ingredients, top with your light-cheese of choice as well as crushed nuts like almonds or cashews. Put this in the oven until melted and pair with some brown rice or quinoa and you will be eating a protein packed meal that is good, and good for you!
Serving size: ¼ cup
Protein per serving: 10 g
Poor tofu, always getting noses turned up at it. Embrace the possibilities of tofu and experiment by substituting it into your dishes that you would normally add chicken or beef to.
Tips: Buy firm tofu, it’s easier to work with and typically has the most calcium.
Meal Ideas: Brown tofu in a pan with olive oil, soy and teriyaki, if you like the heat add Siracha, Tapatio or your favorite hot sauce to add some flavor. Add some instant brown rice into the pan as well as some of your favorite veggies like broccoli, edamame, mushrooms or basil and you have a fiber and protein rich meal. Give tofu a chance, you might just like it.