Including more protein into your daily routine can definitely be a healthy addition, as protein keeps our muscles and bones strong, boosts mental cognition, and keeps us more satiated throughout the day. Generally speaking, a healthy average amount of protein to include is between 50-60 grams per day. Trendy, fad diets that are encouraging you to eat 25-30 grams of protein per meal are considered “high-protein diets” and remain all the rage these days.
If you are doing a high-protein diet or are thinking of starting one, you definitely want to choose lean, proteins and avoid eating proteins that are processed, like bacon, sausage, and deli meats. Some of the proteins to include are eggs, white meat chicken, fish, shellfish, nut butters, and hemp foods. If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or (like me!) just someone who aims to eat a mostly plant-based diet, then hemp hearts are a total pantry must-have because they are the perfect plant-based protein, with 10 grams per serving. Keeping these guys on hand makes it a lot easier to combine plant-based living with important protein-eating. In fact, hemp is one of the most nutritiously dense foods around thanks to its protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Focus on getting your protein intake up a notch by sprinkling hemp hearts on your avocado toast, into your smoothies, salads, and stir-fries. And sneak in some extra plant-protein by using hemp milk in your lattes.
The one thing to keep in mind with high-protein fad diets is that they often skimp on the carbohydrates (aka fruits and veggies). All those gorgeous and delicious fruits and vegetables play a huge role in our overall well-being and actually maintaining that healthy weight. Not getting enough can seriously backfire on your long-term goals. While in the short-term a lack of fruits and veggies will leave you feeling gassy, bloated, and constipated because you are not eating enough fiber. Instead, aim to include foods from all three food groups at each meal (protein, fat, carbohydrates), so take that stir-fry I mentioned…we have protein from the hemp hearts, fiber and carbohydrates from the mix of vegetables, and a fat from the olive oil you are mixing it all together in.
About Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN: Brigitte loves food and in her private practice she creates a plan for each client that combines the foods they love with their health and wellness goals. She practices a holistic and integrative nutrition approach and specializes in digestive/gut health, women’s nutrition, heart health, and general well-being and weight loss.