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Whether you’re just beginning your weight loss journey, or you’ve been on this path for some time now, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about the value of protein in your diet. Protein helps you build lean muscle tissue, which in turn boosts your metabolism. Adequate protein intake minimizes muscle breakdown during intense workouts. It also helps you to feel full longer between meals, and helps to prevent cravings for starchy, sugary carbohydrates.
For these reasons, many weight loss diets emphasize the importance of eating enough protein. But how much is enough? First of all, it depends on whether you choose a calorie restriction diet or a carb restriction diet.
On a calorie restriction diet, your ratios of protein to fat to carbohydrates intake should be 40:30:30. You should maintain these proportions while staying within your recommended calorie allowance. Smart phone apps such as My Fitness Pal or Lose It can help you track the sources of your calories and keep your diet on track.
If you’ve elected to follow a low carbohydrate, high protein diet, we recommend that you consume no more than 45 grams of carbs while aiming for at least 120 grams of protein per day. On this diet you have to be careful about using plant-based protein sources, because they can include too many carbs.
Some people find it challenging to include enough protein in their diets. This is often the case for people who are changing their lifestyles to include more food prepared at home and less snack food from vending machines. You’ll definitely want to consult with your weight loss physician to find out how much protein is right for you, but once you know you can use the helpful list below as a guide.
- Turkey breast: 30 grams of protein in a 100-gram serving
- Tuna or Salmon: 22 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving
- Non-fat mozzarella cheese: 9 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving
- Low-fat Swiss cheese: 8 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving
- Pork chop: 33 grams of protein per 5-ounce serving
- Lean beef: 31 grams of protein per 3-ounce slice
- Tofu: 6 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving
- Soy beans: 29 grams of protein in a 1-cup serving
- Eggs: 6 grams of protein in one large egg
- Yogurt: 14 grams of protein in a 1-cup serving
- Milk: 8 grams of protein in one cup of skim milk
- Soy milk: 8 grams of protein in one cup
- Peanuts: 7 grams of protein in one ounce
- Almonds: 6 grams of protein in one ounce
Again, consult with your weight loss physician about making changes in your diet as some of the foods on the list above may not be appropriate for your situation. Protein is important, but your dietary plan may require precise guidelines that only your physician should dictate.