With age, I have come to know and understand my body so much better. It has taken me years to begin to figure things out regarding what constitutes a healthy diet for me personally and I still feel that I have so much to learn about proper nutrition and my body in particular. However, my experience with exercise programs and various fad diets has revealed a few things that I know for sure:
- protein is absolutely essential to how I feel each day (I am quite conscious of my protein intake and try to have an adequate source of protein with every meal.)
- I have trouble digesting many forms of meat. I am not saying I can’t eat meat, but I have learned what kinds of meat are “friendly” and easily digested by my body. I have also discovered that I must eat red meat in moderation (one to two times per week), fish rarely (depending on the kind) and turkey once in a while. For me, chicken is the staple that I eat several times per week. I also try to plan a minimum of one meatless dinner per week.
- For me, I get most of my protein from eggs, nuts, seeds and chicken.
How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:
I do not count or keep track of my protein intake, but it is sometimes interesting to reflect on what you are eating just to see if you are in fact falling short on your protein intake. Here is a link for a protein calculator. I used two different ways to calculate my recommended levels and both systems came out about the same. For my age and size, I should consume between 74 and 80 grams of protein per day, depending on my activity level.
Despite the fact that we often equate “meat” with protein, there are numerous other foods that offer great sources of protein as well. It really wasn’t until recently that I discovered the value of seeds. I had always tried to incorporate plenty of nuts in my diet, but never really consumed seeds other than the not so healthy salted sunflower seeds we would eat over the summer months. It was The Plan that actually taught me the value of seeds and since then, a day rarely goes by that I do not eat seeds. Raw pumpkins seeds have become one of my favourite additions to my lunch time salads and I will often add raw sunflower seeds or chia seeds to soups and salads as well. Seeds are packed with protein and when eaten raw, make a very healthy addition to any meal. Below are some of my favourite protein sources with a quick comparison of their protein, fat and caloric values. Of course, there are many other nutritional elements in each of the foods below, but I am primarily looking at their protein values. If you are interested in searching for other protein rich foods, Health Alternatives offers some great charts with nutritional information.
As mentioned earlier in the post, pumpkin seeds are one of the few foods that I eat almost every day. You can see how just an ounces of pumpkin seeds on a salad can boost your protein intake and help you to maintain that “full” feeling for much longer than when you eat vegetables only. I found a post that highlights some of the many nutritional benefits of eating raw pumpkin seeds. To learn more about these protein packed little morsels, check-out this post on Young and Raw.
Next time you make a salad, add a handful of raw pumpkin seeds to it and see how much longer you feel “full”. Also, when considering your breakfast choices, always consider how you might incorporate some protein into your meal. We all know breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and including a good source of protein is vital!
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