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The Great Protein Debate continues in East Stroudsburg, PA

How Much and What Kind of Protein Should I Eat?

Many Americans – including those in East Stroudsburg, PA – are confused about how much and what kind of protein to eat.  It may be a surprise to learn that the average person consumes about double the amount of protein that their body requires, according to the results of 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The human body uses protein to repair damaged cells and to build new ones. It assists in synthesizing enzymes and hormones, maintaining fluid balance, and regulating such vital functions as building antibodies against infection, blood clotting, and scar formation.  Protein is also a building block for our muscles, bones, cartilage, skin, hair, and blood.  Protein-rich foods include meat, cheese, milk, fish, and eggs. For vegetarians, protein can be found in soy products such as tofu as well as in combinations of foods, such as rice or corn with beans.

Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at NYU and author of What to Eat, estimates that the average adult man needs about 65 grams of protein a day and the average adult female needs about 55 grams. Some sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization say you can maintain a healthy diet with even less.

The amount of protein needed depends on your muscle building and repair requirements – related directly to the type and amount of physical activity in which you engage.  However, there is common agreement in the medical community that suggests an protein intake of more than 30% of total daily calories can result in a build-up of toxic ketones.  Kidney and liver functions may be adversely affected from an overload of ketones, as well as dehydration from the body’s attempts to flush out the toxins.

What does this actually mean in terms of food choices? The National Institutes of Health explains that most people can meet their daily protein requirement by eating two to three small servings of a protein-rich food a day.

Following are some examples of serving sizes of common protein rich foods.

Porterhouse steak
Serving size: 4 ounces                   Protein: 22 grams                 Cost: $4
Fat: 22 grams            Saturated fat: 9 grams

Farm-raised salmon
Serving size: 4 ounces                   Protein: 22 grams                 Cost: $3
Fat: 10 grams            Saturated fat: 2 grams

Skinless Chicken Breast

Serving size:  4 oz                           Protein:  23.5 Grams            Cost:  $2

Fat:  1.7 grams          Saturated Fat:  .5 grams

 

Lentils
Serving size: 1 cup                          Protein: 17.9 grams             Cost: $.20
Fat: zero                     Saturated fat: zero

Pumpkin Seeds

Serving size:  1 cup                         Protein:  28.8 grams            Cost:  $1

Fat:  45.6 grams        Saturated fat: 12 grams

Examples of a single serving of protein favorites include:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 2-3 ounces of red meat, poultry, or fish (about the size of a Deck of Cards)
  • ½ cup of cooked dried beans such as black beans or chickpeas

Choosing a variety of foods is key to maintaining healthy eating habits, in the Poconos, or where ever you reside.  Daily meal plans should include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein.  Balancing types of foods, keeping calories in check and staying active are all key components of a healthy lifestyle.

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